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Quack attack More than $50,000 raised for Special Olympics

  • The convoy of ducks near the finish line en masse with eight lucky winners making their way into a canister.

    The convoy of ducks near the finish line en masse with eight lucky winners making their way into a canister.
    John Homan photo

  • Marisa Prendergast of Anna served as global ambassador at the duck race Sunday.

    Marisa Prendergast of Anna served as global ambassador at the duck race Sunday.
    John Homan photo

  • Thousands of rubber ducks get dumped into the Du Quoin Fairgrounds lake Sunday, marking the start of the race that benefits Southern Illinois Special Olympics.

    Thousands of rubber ducks get dumped into the Du Quoin Fairgrounds lake Sunday, marking the start of the race that benefits Southern Illinois Special Olympics.
    John Homan photo

 
BY JOHN HOMAN
Managing Editor jhoman@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 9/6/2018 1:46 PM

DU QUOIN -- Ten thousand rubber ducks were dumped into the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds lake Sunday afternoon, where they floated their way across the water under the watchful eyes of a couple hundred supporters of the Southern Illinois Special Olympics. There was some speculation that these ducks had migrated from Oregon, but it was later confirmed that they were indeed a Southern Illinois variety.

People could buy a duck for $5 each or six for $25. About $50,000 was raised altogether for the organization. And four winners were selected based on order of finish in the 30-minute duck derby race. Lee Caraker of Du Quoin was winner of $2,000 in cash was provided by Country Financial. Second place went to Kathy Halleran of Hurst, who won a trip to Mexico. Third place -- a backyard pit, grill and accessories -- went to Sandra Bartlett of Pinckneyville. And fourth place -- two tickets to a NASCAR event donated by Chicagoland Speedway -- was won by Carl Turpin of West Frankfort.

Bill Asbury of Du Quoin, who is a member of the SI Special Olympics Board of Directors and duckmaster of this year's event, said the number of ducks sold increased dramatically from 8,000 a year ago to 10,000 this year, the fourth year of the duck derby fundraiser.

"We have over 14,000 Special Olympians south of Centralia who benefit from this fundraiser," Asbury said. "The money we raise is used to purchase sporting equipment for the athletes, as well as cover traveling expenses. It also helps us put on the Special Olympics," he said.

Jackie Flechs, Region K sports manager for Special Olympics, said it was both "surprising and amazing" that the goal of 10,000 ducks sold was met.

"We had a number of volunteers turn out for this year's derby, along with family members and friends of our athletes."

Flechs said eight ducks in all were captured in a canister at the finish line and whisked away to an office to match up the ducks with the individuals who purchased them. Only four winners were selected.

The extra four ducks were simply chosen in the event some of the winners were minors. Participants must be at least 18 years of age to qualify for prizes.