The 3rd Annual Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby took place Aug. 8 on the Chicago River at noon.
For the second year in a row, Komatsu America Corp. and Roland Machinery sponsored the event.
Steve Beemsterboer, president of Beemsterboer Slag Corp. in Hammond, Ind., loaned the Komatsu HM300 articulated truck used in the Rubber Ducky Derby.
All proceeds directly benefited the more than 22,000 athletes served by Special Olympics Illinois.
The derby featured 35,000 rubber ducks that splashed down from the Columbus Drive Bridge into the Chicago River and raced to the finish line near Michigan Avenue to see which lucky duck would finish first.
Each duck was adopted by a sponsor who paid a donation to the Special Olympics. If a rubber duck finished in the top five, its sponsor could win a prize, ranging from a new Dodge Avenger SXT to a vacation in Mexico to a 42-in. plasma television.
Once the signal was given, the north end of the Columbus Drive Bridge was raised.
The HM300-2, operated by Product Manager Steve Moore of Komatsu drove to the south end of the bridge and dropped the 35,000 ducks into the water to start the race. Last year, 20,000 rubber ducks were launched by the truck, but that number increased to 35,000 this year due to the increasing exposure of the event.
In 2007, the event was shown by 90 television stations worldwide and this year it was broadcast by more than 100 stations worldwide.
Special Olympics Illinois focuses on improving the lives of individuals eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities through year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports. There are more than 2 million athletes participating in more than 20,000 competitions worldwide. Special Olympics provides a vital outlet for physical fitness and competitive activity, and is a means to help enhance the participants’ social and motor skills, as well as build their confidence and self-esteem.
For more information visit www.specialolympics.org.