Key Clubbers team with rubber ducks to help raise thousands for the Tampa Kiwanis Club.
Story by Julie Saetre | Photos by Marsha Kemp Photography and Key Club member Cate Hancock
Key Clubbers are familiar with plenty of race-themed fundraisers, from paint 5Ks to zombie runs. But when club members at Blake High School in Tampa, Florida, received an invitation to help their sponsoring Tampa Kiwanis Club with a race, they weren’t expecting this: rubber ducks. Thousands of them.
That’s exactly what they got, though, when assisting with the Incredible Duck Race, a new fundraiser launched by the Tampa Kiwanians. This past August, the Kiwanis club released thousands of rubber ducks into the Hillsborough River, which borders a downtown Tampa park. Each numbered duck could be “adopted” for US$5, with proceeds going to the club.
On race day, the duck pack entered a cordoned-off section of the river and traveled 100 feet. The first three ducks to be funneled into the winners’ circle earned their adoptive “parents” cash prizes.
Through the duck race, the Kiwanis club hoped to introduce its projects and mission to an expanded audience, and the Key Clubbers gladly jumped on board.
“We decided to help out with the race because we thought it was a really cool idea,” says Joseph Barshay, president of the Blake High School Key Club, “and it seemed to be an out-of-the-box fundraiser.”
Leading up to race day, Key Club members attended multiple promotional events, handing out “adoption” forms and event cards and talking about the fundraiser with the public. A week before the race, they applied tracking stickers to all of the ducks—which, by final count, numbered 7,041.
On the big day, they showed up at the park at 8 a.m. to help with setup. Members positioned sponsor banners around the event area, prepared food and water vending stations and (dodging a rain shower) set out supplies for duck-themed carnival-style games.
Once the public began arriving, club members either manned the vending stations or the games. Guests hungry for snacks purchased water, popcorn, cotton candy and duck-themed cake treats dubbed Quack Pops. Meanwhile, young visitors tossed bean bags, raced eggs and more to win toys and other rewards. Finally, after the event ended, the Key Clubbers gathered all remaining supplies and equipment and helped to clean up the space.
Their efforts paid off: The Tampa Kiwanis Club netted a projected $20,000 to help fund its many projects, including a holiday party for at-risk children, back-to-school immunization events, reading rooms in Boys and Girls Clubs, accessibility ramps for residents in need and grants to not-for-profits. And for the 10 Key Clubbers who assisted with volunteer efforts, the experience itself was valuable.
“I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a duck race before,” says Barshay. “It had a lot of (the community’s) kids excited to see it. This was awesome, because it directly benefited an organization that helps kids—Kiwanis. By the kids, for the kids. In fact, during one of the promotional events, a young girl bought a duck with her own money, because she wanted to help out with the cause.”