Rotary Club of Greater Bend Contributes to Local Charities from Duck Race Proceeds


The Rotary Club of Greater Bend has contributed just over $27,000 — $9,058.72 each to three local organizations: Abilitree, Bend Community Center and Mountain Star Family Relief Nursery. Checks were disbursed at a recent Rotary meeting by Duck Chair and Greater Bend Rotarian Mike Sipe.

The title sponsor for this year’s Duck Race was Credit Unions Working Together – Mid Oregon, OnPoint, Northwest Community and Selco with presenting sponsors of Pacific Power and Robberson Ford. Bend Broadband was the title sponsor of the Kid’s Race. Other sponsors included Saxon’s, Sounds Fast, Stand on Liquid and Arbor Mortgage along with several local media groups.

“I am impressed with how the community rallied around the event in support of great Bend charities,” said Sipe. “Several Rotary Clubs collaborated along with local credit unions, Robberson Ford and many other fine businesses, making it possible for this year’s race breaking all records, which is remarkable in a down economy. Plus, everyone had a lot of fun in the process!”

Ticket sales outpaced last year: 17,043 tickets sold this year (15,807 sold in 2010) with net proceeds this year of $79,403 (versus $61,000 in 2010 – a 30 percent increase). Rotary Club of Greater Bend contributed $27,000 to local charities while other area Rotary Clubs including the Bend Club, High Desert Club and Mt. Bachelor Club distributed the remaining duck ticket revenue.

Sipe credited the increase in proceeds to additional sponsorship funding and record breaking ticket sales. In the last four years alone, local non-profits have received $254,430.


According to Chas Nelson, a member of the Rotary Club of Greater Bend who helped organize the first race, the event was the idea of the Central Oregon Duck Club.  The first race was in 1989 and was approved by the Lottery Commission for the Boom Collection and the type of ducks used.

“We had eight members in our Rotary that belonged to the Central Oregon Duck Club and we needed the Rotary to sell ducks for the event,” Nelson explained.

The first three years it was run under the U of O Lottery License with the Duck Club getting $1,000 of the proceeds.  “As the event got bigger the Beavers didn’t like the idea that they were donating to the Ducks for their football team,” Nelson remembered.

“The Duck Club relationship ended and the Rotary took over the licensing.  Janie Teater was one of the first volunteers to run the race and after a few years the size of the event was growing so the Bank of the Cascades donated $7,500 to hire a coordinator.”

Today the Rotary Club of Greater Bend is responsible for the race in the Deschutes River.

“Eugene bought rubber ducks with bar codes on the bottom and an oil collection boom and made no monies on the event,” said Nelson. “Our plastic ducks are 10 cents each and are numbered by hand on the bottom.  We sort all the ducks every year to make sure that they are all there. The boom cost $200 to make with donated materials and still works great today 22 years later.

“About four years into the race we were storing the ducks and the boom and sales stuff in a county building on Second Street and it caught fire and destroyed everything but we made the decision to rebuild rather than scrap the project.”

Rotarians dump the ducks in the river at the Galveston Bridge and collect the winners down stream from the foot bridge over Drake Pond.  The most amazing part is collecting 17,000 ducks after the winners cross the finish.  “We have been very fortunate to have a community that enjoys the river and many people show up each year to help with all sorts of floating crafts,” said Nelson.

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 30,000 Rotary clubs.


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