Lining up the ducks for a big splash of generosity

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 04:31 PM

A river flowing down Garnett Street with at least 1,500 rubber ducks on Saturday will mark the fourth annual Ducky Derby hosted by the Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start, a local non-profit led by volunteers who provide programs and services to families and children in the Tri-County area.

Garry Daeke, development coordinator at FGV Smart Start, said the organization’s bi-annual fundraisers help support their youth literacy programs, which have faced cuts by the N.C. General Assembly in recent years.

The money raised from the Ducky Derby will benefit FGV Smart State programs, such as “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library” and “Reach Out and Read,” that donate thousands of books a year to children younger than five years old in order to promote literacy among youth.

State Rep. Nathan Baskerville said the budget passed by the N.C. General Assembly reduced Smart Start funding by 20 percent from fiscal year 2012-2013. He said that reduction accounts for $37.6 million.

“I think that these types of programs, like Smart Start, are a smart investment in our children and children’s future and our future,” he said. “We need to maintain at least the same level of access that these young, at-risk children are accustomed to.

“It hurts our economy and it hurts our education system more than it helps when we undergo these types of drastic cuts.”

The fall derby has gained momentum as it has added years.

But Daeke said his organization faced an 18 percent cut in fiscal year 2011-2012, and a 2.5 percent cut in 2012-2013.

The FGV Smart Start’s “Reach Out and Read” program partners with local pediatrician offices to supply young patients with books during well visits. Daeke said the program offers free books to kids, who are tasked with reading the story by next year’s annual well visit.

Through “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” participating children under 5 years old receive one book each month. Parents of any child in the age range may apply.

The featured Ducky Derby race will splash into action at 2 p.m. on Garnett Street, where Greystone Concrete Products Inc. donates a cement mixer to prepare the ducks for the Garnett Street “river.”

Daeke said about 1,500 tickets were sold as of Thursday morning. Tickets will be sold Saturday until 1 p.m. He anticipates the event to generate about 1,800-2,000 tickets overall.

Baskerville said these fundraising efforts are necessary, especially in times when legislative cuts can be and are severe.

“I believe that early childhood education and development is critical and these types of programs have been vital,” he said. “They are going to suffer the brunts of these budget cuts, unfortunately.”


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• Entertainment: will include a bounce house, slide, face painting, paint your own duck, corn hole, and ring toss games. A DJ will provide music, and zumba at 10:30 a.m. Food vendors will be providing hamburgers, French fries, barbecue, drinks, funnel cakes, cotton candy and Pelican’s SnoBalls.

• When: Saturday, September 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Where: Breckenridge Street from Chestnut to Garnett. The Ducky Derby race will take place on Garnett Street at 2 p.m.

• Prizes and ticket information: First place duck is $1,000, second place is $500, third place is Chick-fil-A for a year, and last duck is $100. Individual tickets are $5 each, a Quack Pack of six tickets is $25, and a Flock of 25 tickets is $100. Tickets are on sale the day of the event until 1 pm.