Ducky Derby makes a splash at the Du Quoin State Fair - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Ducky Derby makes a splash at the Du Quoin State Fair

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DU QUOIN -- 8,000 rubber ducks hit the water at the lake beside the Exhibition Hall on Sunday afternoon at the Du Quoin State Fair to benefit the Special Olympics.

Ducks were sold at $5 a piece by the athletes and volunteers. In fact, the ducks for the derby sold out by Saturday at 3 p.m., making it the first time in the three year history that every duck has sold.

The ducks each raised a little money to be put towards the Special Olympics of Southern Illinois, an organization that has been making a lifelong impact for those with special needs.

"Without Special Olympics, it wouldn't mean anything,"  said Eric Baumann, a Special Olympics athlete. "It shows the world that we have a place in society.”

It's the difference that keeps organizer and Special Olympics board member Bill Asbury doing it year after year.

"This brings a lot of opportunities for Special Olympic athletes," Asbury said. "They get to compete in Illinois Special Olympic events at no cost,”

Baumann said through the help of Special Olympics, he has made friends and excelled in the sports he's competed in.

"It shows us that we have social skills and through competition and vice versa,” he said.

After just 15 minutes, the ducks had made it across the lake, but Asbury said it's not about the ducks or the prizes: It's about the athletes and the inclusion that makes the Special Olympics something great.

“They get to do the sporting events that all kids get to do and they feel like they're just like any other kid,” Asbury said. 

All the proceeds from selling the ducks went straight to the Special Olympics, proceeds which totaled nearly $40,000. More money is headed to the organization, as well, with the help of sponsorships for the event.

Cash prizes and a vacation donated by sponsors were awarded to derby winners at the end of the event Sunday afternoon.

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