Duck season kicks off Thursday, signalling the run-up to the Center for Prevention of Abuse's annual fundraiser, which hits its 30th year.
That rubber duck race has seen substantial growth since 1989, as has the organization itself, with the addition of work to help human trafficking victims and operate specialized programs to help young children who have witnessed violence.
"We have to constantly look at, 'What does the future of abuse look like?' That's a dark topic. But it's incumbent on us to make sure we're here, to stay relevant. We need to be prepared to help people," center executive director Carol Merna says.
Some ducky details:
30,000: The number of ducks sponsors can buy this year, up from 25,000 last year. Only 10,000 a year were sold until 2006. "We knew that in our 30th year — we're the oldest duck race in the country — we knew that we wanted to make a significant mark," Merna says.
417,850: Total number of ducks raced in 29 years.
$2.1 million: The amount raised over 29 years of duck races. All proceeds go to support center programs.
$15,000: The total raised each of the first three years.
$146,648: The total raised last year, the highest on record.
$5: Cost of a single duck, enough to provide hygiene products for one person at the center's emergency shelter.
$100: Cost of 20 ducks, enough to fund an hourlong classroom presentation to schoolchildren on violence prevention education. The center does 4,000 such presentations a year.
Thursday: Kickoff event at Kelleher's Irish Pub & Eatery, 619 SW Water St., from 6 to 9 p.m., with ducks available to donors two-for-one.
Aug. 25: Duck race activities begin at noon at Eastside Centre in East Peoria.
$5,000: Value of top prize for winning duck. There will be 30 total prizes this year, double the usual number, from gift cards to TVs to cash.