On Saturday, June 18th, Weigand Construction held its annual duck race to benefit SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect). The event began in the Johnny Appleseed Park at 7:00 pm, and the ducks were launched into the St. Joseph River at 8:00. However, for duck race volunteers, local businesses, and SCAN staff, preparations started much earlier. Sales of the small rubber ducks used to compete in the race began throughout the city on May 2nd.
Fort Wayne citizens bought ducks in quantities from 1 to 300 in hopes of winning on race day, and it is not hard to see why some individuals got so excited. Weigand and other event sponsors offered wonderful prizes to the individuals whose ducks finished within the top 25. First place was worth $5,000, second $1,000, and third place $500. The rest of the prizes were just as desirable, including a one-year YMCA membership, four one-day Park Hopper passes to Disney World, and Pizza Hut Pizza for a year.
The company hoped to sell 18,000 ducks for this year’s race, and were able to surpass that number by a significant margin: selling nearly 20,000 ducks and raising tens of thousands of dollars that went directly to the SCAN. The success of the sales drive is likely due to the event’s long list of local business sponsors. From banks to restaurants to design firms, ducks were available to the public in a plethora of locations. The average Fort Wayner was likely to encounter at least one vendor within the seven-week selling period.
The main duck race event was supported by a kid’s zone with basketball and bounce houses, a beer garden hosted by Fort Wayne Turners, food trucks, the Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra on Sweetwater Sound’s mobile stage, a fireworks show, and the inaugural Quackers Riverway 5K Run and Walk. Kourtney Teegardin, grants and communications manager for SCAN, stated that these offerings increased attendance significantly. In the past, event-goers would stay for a few minutes to watch the duck race and then depart. This year’s event created an atmosphere of fun celebration which boosted both participation and donations. Through all the 2016 activities and through individual donations, the community raised a record total of $202,000 for children in need.