By Jessie Hellmann Kokomo Tribune
---- — For the first time in several years, rain didn’t threaten the annual Samaritan Caregivers Duck Derby at Kokomo Beach Family Aquatic Center.
Storms last year caused organizers to implement an hour rain delay, but no sign of dooming precipitation appeared Thursday afternoon in the 95-degree heat – and that meant more fundraising dollars for the Samaritan Caregivers.
“I think we’ll have record attendance,” said Samaritan Caregivers Executive Director Jamey Henderson. “The weather is hot, and where do you want to be when it’s hot? The pool.”
The 15th annual duck derby kicked off yesterday from 5 to 10 p.m. at Kokomo Beach to raise money for the Samaritan Caregivers, a non-profit that provides free services for those 65 and older still living at home in Howard County.
Services include transportation, handyman services like simple repairs and lawn mowing and personal shopping.
The derby raises about $20,000 every year, making it the organization’s biggest fundraiser.
“Fundraising is one way that we raise money so that we can continue to provide these services to people for free,” Henderson said. “If something were to happen to this event, if we were to have terrible weather and have to cancel it, it would really be devastating for us. It would be a loss of $20,000. So, It’s really critical that we have a successful event.”
For $5, people bought a ticket with a number on it, which corresponds to a number on the bottom of a small rubber duck. The $5 also came with admission to swim at the beach from 7 to 9 p.m., play the kids’ games, free pizza and drinks and to watch the duck races.
All the ducks were dumped in the Lazy River at Kokomo Beach to race each other. The first ten ducks that crossed the finish line won various prizes for the people with the corresponding numbers, such as the grand prize of $1,000, or a pizza a week for a year, Indiana Beach tickets, Colts tickets and free hotel rooms.
For $100, businesses purchased “papa ducks,” which are bigger ducks that can be decorated for competition.
“We know that people have a lot of choices where they spend their money today, and we’re really pleased they chose to spend it with us,” Henderson said.
Southern Care Hospice was one of the local businesses which bought a papa duck, modeling it after a duck on the TV show Duck Commander.
RN Case Manager Leanna Sharp said Southern Care Hospice comes out in support every year.
“A lot of our patients need more than what we can provide them,” Sharp said. “They need companions and volunteers. Samaritan Caregivers really helps us out a lot with their services.”
She said she encourages people in the community to support the derby as well.
“The need donations to keep going because some people in the community are hurting and don’t have transportation, a lot of people can’t do their housework or go get their groceries, and they provide all of that for the elderly.”