Hope floats.

That was the title of a Sandra Bullock movie a few years ago. But it’s also a reminder of a healthy perspective of ticket buyers for the 12th Annual Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash slated Oct. 10 at Mill Race Park’s Round Lake.

People purchasing rubber ducks at $5 apiece automatically are registered for a chance to win $12,000 in cash and prizes or the grand prize — a new vehicle or $50,000.

Last year’s event generated a record $56,735 for area youth, including middle-schooler trips to the nation’s capitol and band competition trips. The school or organization selling chances or tickets gets 80 cents of every dollar collected. The remaining 20 percent goes to a variety of Columbus Meridian Kiwanis Club service projects.

Since the event’s inception, it has raised nearly $500,000 for youth-related and community projects, according to organizers.

Kiwanian Jeff Blasdell, who launched the effort here after seeing a California Kiwanis group do it successfully, said the significant local impact hinges on one main element.

“I think we have a very generous community,” Blasdell said.

And not just financially.

Consider that local resident Jim Ogilvie pilots a helicopter that drops about 200 of the ducks into the lake each year for a bit of extra pizzaz as the event begins.

“We just need that excitement,” Blasdell said with a laugh.

The other 14,000-plus yellow birds are put into the water by boat before winners are randomly selected. Blasdell has chaired the event since it began, and earned him the 2010 James A. Henderson Award for fundraising by the Heritage Fund: the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

He will accept little credit for his leadership.

“I’m just not that good at delegating,” Blasdell said.

In fact, he passes a lot of credit to the more than 20 organizations selling the duck tickets. They range from middle schools to bad boosters.

The event, which attracts about 200 people annually, has grown into far more than remote-controlled boats pulling winning ducks from the water. This year’s free gathering will include bounce houses, a magic show, photo opportunities with “Star Wars” characters, health screenings and such.

The way Blasdell sees it, the splash has plenty of room to grow.

“You would think 15,000 ducks would seem like a lot in the lake,” he said. “But when you put them in there, it doesn’t look like that many at all.

“And there’s really no limit to how far this thing can go.”

Currently, plenty of duck tickets still are available at a variety of locales. People also can buy them until noon Oct. 10 at the park.

Kiwanis member Peggy Ganus, who inputs all the duck ticket numbers into a computer, said she knows that fundraisers can be challenging.

“Some people just don’t like to sell stuff,” Ganus said. “But I always have told people that it really doesn’t hurt at all to ask. The worst thing that can happen is that people say no.”

She mentioned that her involvement, along with fellow Kiwanian and husband Tom, is spurred all the more by knowing the club’s work can help students defray expenses for field and extracurricular trips, such as the one some Northside Middle School students make to Washington, D.C.

“This helps even the playing field for those kids who otherwise can’t afford it,” she said.

A just-ducky fundraiser

What: 12th Annual Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash fundraiser

When: Begins at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 10.

Where: Columbus’ Mill Race Park Round Lake, Fifth Street.

Why: To raise money for area youth organizations and efforts, such as school trips.

How to help: Buy/adopt a rubber duck at $5 apiece from participants such as Columbus’ Midwest Computer Solutions, Children Inc., kidscommons and others. A complete list is at kducks.com.

Information: kducks.com.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.