• Tom Dobrez

Rotary Cancels Ducky Derby

Despite the cancellation of this summer’s annual Ducky Derby Festival, the Rotary Club of Aspen is pursuing an initiative that will explore new ways to support youth and other community organizations as well as high school scholarships, all normally funded by the Ducky Derby. At a recent special meeting, the Club’s Board of Directors made the difficult decision that it will be unable to conduct the annual Ducky Derby festival and duck race in the river this August, due to the health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus COVID-19. This will be the first time in its 28-year history that the Ducky Derby can’t be held.

“It saddens me that we’ve had to come to this conclusion,” says Rotary Club of Aspen President Shaun Hathaway. “Rotary’s duck race has provided 28 years of continuous fun and fundraising for the community. However, due to the prohibitions on large gatherings and the coronavirus’s severe economic impacts, we simply cannot hold these beloved events this year.”

The heavily-attended community festival in Rio Grande Park funded The Rotary Club of Aspen's ability to give back to the community through community grants, academic scholarships (Aspen and Basalt High School) and international service projects.  “The good news," according to President Shaun Hathaway, "is that even without the Ducky Derby, our Rotary Club of Aspen will continue its other programs, thanks in part to our local Rotary Foundation.”

The Rotary Foundation has just given out its first $15,000 to support seven local non-profit organizations who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Foundation board members will join other Rotarians as part of a new initiative to develop a plan that will raise money to support those who have normally benefited annually from the Ducky Derby fundraiser.

While the Club’s initial $30,000 target for scholarships and additional community non-profit funding is far below the revenue Ducky Derby provides for its gifting goals, “It is a humble start on our road to recovery,” says Hathaway.  

Besides college scholarships and local non-profits, the Ducky Derby has long raised money for international programs, such as the eradication of polio worldwide, and has added a new effort to reduce the incidence of Malaria in Zambia. While the Club is determining how to proceed with its bigger fundraising initiative, it has established a Go-Fund-Me account for anyone who would like to support these local and/or international efforts: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/covid-19-recovery-campaign1.

The 100-member Rotary Club of Aspen was one of the first Rotary clubs in the United States to convert to weekly online meetings following stay-at-home-orders this spring. For this reason, Aspen's Rotary is going to be featured in the July issue of The Rotarian magazine.


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