More than 400 rubber ducks raced down the lazy river at Discovery Canyon in support of youth programs in Red Deer.
On Monday, the Optimist Club of Red Deer hosted its second annual Duck Race, where the person with the winning duck would receive $5,000.
“This year we sold 412 ducks,” said Les Trevor, the club’s president-elect.
“It’s a neat little event. Even after the first duck crossed the finish line, some ducks are still in the water trying to get their wings going.”
Duck No. 322, which belonged to Arlene Vis, was first to cross the finish line. Additionally, Helen Dobson won $4,045 through the 50-50 draw.
The Optimist Club of Red Deer was started in 1960 by a group of Red Deer professionals. Two of the founding members, Tom Chapman and Glenn Turple, are still active in the club.
“Over the years we’ve raised million of dollars for youth in Red Deer. The optimist slogan is, ‘Friend of youth,’” said Trevor.
“We’ve donated to a variety of organizations, and we focus on health and wellness, education, and sports and recreation.”
Between this year’s 50-50 and the duck race, the optimists raised more than $16,000, which will go towards supporting local youth-focused programs, including Youth HQ and Reading College, which is a Red Deer Public Schools program that helps second-grade children achieve class literacy.
“We’d like to make this a huge event in the future,” Trevor said, adding the duck race will return in 2024.
“We exceeded the total fundraising from last year, so that was nice. I think we sold probably the same number of ducks. We’re working on getting 1,000 ducks sold and in the water. We’d like to make this a signature event where people can come out and show support.”
Prior to the event, a moment of silence was held for longtime Optimist Norm Cooper, who passed away earlier this year.
“He did everything he could to help us raise funds and to get money back into youth projects. Last year, Norm was standing down at the end of lazy river in bare feet fishing ducks out of the water. It’s unfortunate we lost him. But we’ll remember him forever because he was so passionate about helping the youth,” said Trevor.