The Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby has been held in downtown Chicago now for the last eight years. For seven of those years, a group of very special athletes, Global Messengers who’ve dubbed themselves the Darling Ducklings, have been selling “adoptions” to raise funds for a program near and dear to their hearts—Special Olympics. (Global Messengers are Special Olympics athletes who help spread the message and vision of the movement as well as the benefits they have gained by participating in Special Olympics.)
This year, these athletes have aimed high by setting a goal to sell 5,000 adoptions and raise $25,000 for Special Olympics Illinois. Their team leader, Leona Brescher, works with this group throughout the year, identifying marketing and sales opportunities and encouraging the athletes to really put themselves out there. “The athletes are our best fundraisers, they can outsell me 5 to 1,” Brescher said. “Having athletes out front and center makes supporting Special Olympics Illinois much more ‘real’ to the average person. They have a better understanding of who benefits and are more apt to ‘adopt’ a duck as a result.”
Katelyn Gruenwald of Palatine was chosen as the Duck Ambassador for this year’s race. She is currently the top seller on the team. Our Darling Ducklings are a competitive bunch. Sales have been set up at Area events and numerous places of business such as Family Video, K&M Printing, Walgreens, Baxter and Northshore Hospital. Moms, dads, siblings, aunts and uncles have all bought into their athlete’s goal and are doing what they can to make additional sales for the team.
At this year’s Duck Race Kick-Off event at Maggiano’s of Chicago, emcee Allison Rosati was presented with a large rubber ducky with autographs and personal messages of gratitude from each team member. Rosati had actually presented this same duck to the athletes the year before. They thought it would be fun to sign it, emblazon its side with the Athlete Oath, wrap it all up with a Unified gold medal and then present it back to her. She was very touched.
“Overall, it has been a very positive event for the athletes to be involved in. Their fundraising techniques get better with each passing year as their rising goals can attest to,” Brescher said.
Click here to adopt a duck from the Darling Ducklings team.