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Rubber ducks take a dip in Lake Lanier
Annual Duck Derby benefits Boys & Girls Clubs
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Hundreds of rubber ducks are dumped into the water Saturday during the 12th annual Rubber Duck Derby at Clarks Bridge Park. The event benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

It is not every day that you see 15,000 rubber ducks in Lake Lanier.

But the yellow ducks were ready to race Saturday at Clark’s Bridge Park on Lake Lanier in the 12th annual Rubber Duck Derby, which benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County.

Leading up to the event, people could “adopt” a duck through a $5 donation. Donors also could buy multiple ducks for $25 or $100.

John Gram, a board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs, served as the “head duck” this year, helping make sure everything ran smoothly. Joyce Wilson, the clubs’ vice president of development and marketing, said the derby is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year; this year’s raised more than $72,000.

“We really depend on this event to help us sustain our programs and to serve the kids that we have on a daily basis,” Wilson said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County provides programs to more than 4,000 children and teens in order to build strong character and leadership.

This fall, the clubs will open the new Joseph Walters Club next to Lyman Hall Elementary School.

“Some of the money from the Rubber Duck Derby will go to help serve those kids as well,” Wilson said. “If it wasn’t for events like this and the money and support from the community, we wouldn’t be able to serve the kids.”

A new V.I.D. (Very Important Duck) Corporate Duck Race was added this year, with V.I.D. members rewarded with special food and door prizes, and their ducks swam to the finish line in their own special race Saturday.

Another new event this year was the 5K Derby Dash & Bash, held Friday in downtown Gainesville.

Kim Martin, the Safe Kids Gainesville/Hall County Coordinator, said her organization wanted to be involved as a sponsor to help raise awareness about various topics, including fire safety, water safety, poison prevention and car-seat safety.

“We are here to hand some things out, give some goodies to the children, and just have a fun day in support of the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Martin said. “This is a free, fun event for children and their families.”

Richard King said he decided to make the Rubber Duck Derby an event for his family four years ago, and has been coming back ever since.

King made it to Clark’s Bridge Park early Saturday morning and grabbed a picnic table with his family, which included Zenaide King, Cara Woodall, 13, Kaily King, 9, and Olivia King, 7.

“The kids love it,” Richard King said. “There is a lot of stuff to do for the kids.”

Cara said she especially likes watching when the ducks are let go into the water. The 3 p.m. race put the “adopted” ducks against each other in a battle to the finish line.

There were more than $20,000 in prizes on the line in cash and merchandise.

Winners included Lisa Hunter of Galway, N.Y., who won $10,000. Other winners were Andrew Jackson, Patti Blakley, Jerry Card, Jo Brewer, Phil Markert and Melvin Cooper.

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