By NewsLine Staff

On Sunday, May 22, the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra dumped approximately 3,000 rubber ducks into the Intracoastal waters from the Palm Valley bridge to the delight of hundreds of onlookers. The annual Rubber Duck Race raises money for the organizations who put it on, namely the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra and its non-profit partner, Learn to Read of St. Johns County. With the help of National Honor Society students at Creekside, Nease and Ponte Vedra high schools, as well as several corporate sponsors, the duck race raised about $20,000 for the Rotary Club’s foundation and Learn to Read.

“We could not do this event without the help of those students and our corporate sponsors,” said Rubber Duck Race chairperson and Rotarian, Gary Smith. “Lazzara Orthodontics and Sid Ansbacher were our lead sponsors and the faculty supervisors of the National Honor Society programs at the high schools were incredibly helpful. As Rotarians, we value the phrase ‘Service Above Self’ and these folks demonstrated that every step of the way.” 

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Shortly before the ducks were dropped in the water, those gathered at the nearby Palm Valley Outdoors Bar & Grill heard from several dignitaries about the significance of the event. Those speakers included Luis (Luiggi) Estrella (current Learn to Read student), Angela Moreno (former Learn to Read student and current Learn to Read employee), MaryBeth Murray (president of Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra), Kelly Barrera (School Board member, St. Johns County School District) and Jeremiah Blocker (St. Johns County Commissioner).

A front loader dropped the rubber ducks into the water below, where boaters and kayakers waited to observe the “race.” They then gathered all the ducks from the water and randomly selected the top finishers. Those who adopted the top finishing ducks in the race won an array of donated prizes ranging from two free airline tickets from Southwest Airlines to a $100 gift card at TPC Sawgrass. 

“Our volunteer-based organization provides free literacy skills assessment and instruction in St. Johns and Putnam Counties to individuals 16 years of age and older,” said Learn to Read’s executive director, Joseph Cinney. “Without the Rubber Duck Race, our services would be significantly impacted. We are so grateful to the Ponte Vedra community for its help in keeping this Rubber Duck Race afloat.”

Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra

A good time was had by all — for a good cause!

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