A veritable chorus of prepubescent voices rang out from the sidelines of Raging Waters’ Calypso Cooler Lazy River on Saturday as Sutter Children’s Center supporters screamed “dump the ducks” at the bridge up above.
More than 3,200 yellow rubber ducks came sprawling into the 800-foot-long pool at 5 p.m. Saturday, part of the Duck Dash fundraiser for the hospital’s Child Life program. As the ducks floated, children ran alongside, hoping the ducks their families paid $15 per pair to adopt would be first to cross the finish line.
The ducks are specially weighted and designed to stay upright during the journey, and numbered so that invested spectators can track their progress.
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The annual fundraiser for the music therapy program kicked off for the third time at the water park. The revenue will go toward the construction of Sophie’s Place, a high-tech music therapy room at the new Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center.
The price of two ducks also includes one half-day ticket at Raging Waters, which waived the admission fee for dash participants. The event is sponsored each year by Quick Quack Car Wash. The hospital hopes to raise $10,000. The top five winners of the Duck Dash received prizes, including a $500 gift card, season tickets to Raging Waters and free car washes at Quick Quack.
“It’s kind of a sight to see – all these yellow ducks being dumped in the water,” said Zack Wandell, event organizer. “You get a full day at Raging Waters, so that’s always fun. And you’re able to build memories of helping children heal.”
The Duck Dash specifically benefits the music therapy component of Child Life. There are currently two music therapists at Sutter, who put in a combined 20 hours per week helping patients learn to play instruments and write music. They also play lullabies for anxious infants and lead group musical activities.
These activities contribute greatly to children’s happiness while undergoing treatment, said Amy Medovoy, Child Life program coordinator.
“We use music for relaxation, lowering heart rates and helping kids express their feelings and writing songs about their experiences,” she said.
For Julie Murdock, the Duck Dash is more than just a fun day – it’s a memorial celebration for her son William. He benefited from the Child Life program when he was in hospital for two years undergoing cancer treatment. Though he died at age 10, he loved the Donut Dash – a sister event held each March – and would have loved the Duck Dash just as much, she said.
She and her four sons enjoyed Raging Waters on Saturday, and cheered on about 40 rubber ducks in the race.
“The duck is a happy symbol,” Murdock, of Folsom, said. “The kids have to grow up so quickly. They have to deal with hard, heavy things on a regular basis. This is an opportunity for them to let loose and watch these ducks.”