"It's certainly open to the public," said Patty Eagar, executive director for Advocates for Children. "It's a celebration and kind of a pep rally for selling ducks. It's particularly geared toward people who will be selling ducks in their organization, their company, their bank, their team. ... We'll give out packets and posters and yard signs and that sort of thing, all the tools that they need to be able to sell ducks.
"And we're asking every duck sales site this year to commit to selling at least 250 ducks. [Last year] we sold 20,000 ducks and we [netted almost $84,000]. We would like to sell 30,000 ducks this year and therefore we would raise well over $100,000."
During Advocates for Children's 11th annual event on May 12, thousands of rubber ducks will race for prizes down the Etowah River at the Riverside Day Use Area in Cartersville. While the festival will get under way at 10 a.m., the main race event will launch at 2:30 p.m. In addition to supporting Advocates, adopters will be eligible for various prizes, ranging from a 2012 Honda Fit from Honda Carland North for the owner of the fastest duck to a one-year membership for two courtesy of Gold's Gym of Cartersville for the owner of the slowest.
Starting Friday, individuals will be able to adopt a duck for $5 each via www.AdvoChild.org or at adoption sites across the community. For those wanting to purchase more than one duck, packages also will be available, including one VID -- a Very Important Duck to enter in the VID race on May 12 at 1 p.m. -- and 50 ducks for $250.
Since about 56 percent of Advocates' annual $1.6 million budget is raised by the local community, events like the Duck Derby are integral to the nonprofit's success. Each year, Advocates serves more than 2,600 area youth and families through its Flowering Branch Children's Shelter and providing services that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse.
"I think every child needs a chance at a good, successful life," said Nicole Hughes, sales chairman for the Duck Derby. "I think that it's important that Advocates is there and that ... [we] can help [these children] grow and become successful people in life.
"[During the kick off] they'll learn how to fill out their paperwork completely. The purpose is to get teams excited about the Duck Derby, to get them excited about selling ducks and [to stress] why we're doing this."
Even though it is not required, people are encouraged to RSVP to Thursday's kick off by calling Advocates, 770-387-1143, or Hughes, 770-382-0032.