Our Rubber Duck Racer Spotlight on Bradenton, FL this month features our nonprofit partner, PACE Center for Girls of Manatee County. Throughout the year, we will feature different nonprofit partners so our duck racer community can learn from each other.
Organization Name: Pace Center for Girls of Manatee County
Years Racing with GAME: 2017 will mark 8 years
Head Duck: Heather Kortzendorf, Board Chair; Christi Haley, Staff Chair
Tell us a little bit about your organization and why you are racing ducks:
PACE Center for Girls is a year-round, non-residential school, providing a safe environment where middle and high school aged girls can thrive in a small environment. Our balanced emphasis on academics and social services is combined with our program model to produce an experience that is nationally recognized as one of the most effective programs for helping at-risk girls realize brighter and more productive futures.
We’re racing ducks to change the lives of girls in our community!
What is your favorite part of planning a Rubber Duck Race?
The best part of planning a duck race is meeting new people in the community. Each person we meet wants to give of their personal time to help our girls. We love the fact that anyone in the community can be involved a make a difference. Adoptions start at only $5.00, and volunteer opportunities are available for a variety of tasks, from leading a team to tagging ducks. It’s inspiring when the community comes together.
Do you have any duck race tips you would share with a first time racer?
Take advantage of the training and expertise of the GAME staff, and attend the Racer Conference if at all possible. Being able to brainstorm new ideas and spend time with other racers is so helpful. I have learned something new to grow our race at each conference. No one else truly understands the event like your fellow racers. Having a forum to share the struggles and celebrate success is invaluable. As a first time racer, set realistic goals and keep your expectations low, knowing that slow and steady really does win the race and there is tremendous potential growth over time.
How do you keep your race fresh and new year after year?
We evaluate our race every year and limit changes in focus to only 3. For example, this past year we made a commitment to increase our social media exposure, grow the number of “community led” teams, and develop a Very Important Duck program. Our Very Important Duck Package includes 100 ducks in our race plus one corporate duck with a business logo that was entered into the Very Important Duck Race. With these changes, we increased our duck sales by over 30%, from 15,000 to 20,000 ducks. We sold out just prior to the race! Changes are made every year to keep the event fresh, but we limit the changes to three to grow our race steadily while maintaining a positive reputation in the community.
What is something some people might not know about your organization and/or Rubber Duck Race?
We have a DDC!!! Every racer needs one… our “Duck Deployment Crewe” takes care of all logistical issues regarding the race and takes tremendous strain off of our staff & volunteers. Can you imagine not worrying about how the ducks will arrive at the race location, how they will get into the water, race to the finish, and be packed back up?? The DDC has its own logo and t-shirts, and are part of the “Hernando De Soto Historical Society,” a men’s volunteer organization. They truly make a difference in our community in so many ways, and we couldn’t race without them!
What are some organizational goals you are trying to achieve with your Rubber Duck Race?
The Lucky Ducky Race for PACE not only raises funds, but tremendous advocacy for our programs. Before starting the race 8 years ago, not many people in the community knew we existed. Now, “Quacky” is recognizable throughout the community and everyone wants a hug and picture when she makes appearances at community events! Because of our teams and restaurant partners who give adoption certificates to each of their customers, our community understands a little more about the needs of girls and has a positive image of PACE and the girls we serve.
What is your favorite phrase or quote?
Adopt a Duck…Help a Girl!
What is your favorite ducktionary phrase?
We use specQUACKular, QUACKtastic, and QUACKtabulous on a regular basis… and “our feathers are ruffling with excitement” when we’re looking forward to a QUACK ATTACK or other event.