“It’s basically a motivational party,” said Erika Henry, administrative assistant for Advocates for Children. “... It’s just a way to get people excited about the Duck Derby. So it’s our way of saying, ‘Hey, it’s almost here, let’s get our last minute items together and brainstorm to see what else needs [to be] done.’
“... There’s a lot of reasons [why people get involved]. I think competing for a good cause is always a great motivator. It teaches people, especially the kids in schools who are selling ... how to interact with people and how to spread the word about a good cause. And it teaches them to sort of do things that are beneficial for the community as well as themselves.”
During Advocates for Children’s Duck Derby on May 17, thousands of rubber ducks will race for prizes down the Etowah River at the Riverside Day Use Area in Cartersville. While the duck race will be the highlight of the event at 2:30 p.m., there also will be a VID (Very Important Duck) race for those purchasing the VID package for $250 at 1 p.m. and the festival will be ongoing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ducks currently are available online at www.AdvoChild.org and at adoption sites across the community following the Duck Derby Festival Kickoff. Packages run from $25 to $250 and individual ducks cost $5.
This year, Advocates for Children is trying to sell 25,001 ducks, which would set a record for the organization. In 2013, the event netted $80,000.
Since about 55 percent of Advocates’ annual more than $1.7 million budget is raised by the local community, events like the Duck Derby are integral to the nonprofit’s operations. Each year, Advocates serves about 2,600 area youth through the Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter and provides programs that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse.
“It’s [a] fundraising [event] ... and it also does increase awareness of child abuse,” Advocates President and CEO Patty Eagar said. “We’ve had a bad year for child abuse around here and some tragedy. We always have people who realize what’s going on with the Duck race and they want to ask questions about, ‘How do I make a report, like if I think that something in my neighborhood is not quite right or I just want to reach out and protect some children.’ So we get more calls during duck season for that than we do throughout the rest of the year too just because more people are thinking about us.
“It is heartwarming ... [seeing] those ducks float down the river every year. This will be the 13th time. It’s remarkable to know that somebody spent $5 on every single one of those ducks that is floating down the river, because that many people do care about helping kids.”
For more information about Advocates and its benefit, call 770-387-1143 or visit www.AdvoChild.org.