Ducks net thousands for cancer

August 11, 2003|by DON AINES

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - When she bought two tickets for Sunday's 14th annual American Cancer Society Duck Derby, Melanie High of Chambersburg, Pa., knew she was doing something to help others, but she ended up helping herself, as well.

"That's awesome. I'm 45 and I've never won anything," said High, who spent $10 on her two entries. "It's good timing. We're getting ready to go on vacation."

The $500 top prize, donated for the event by Citizens National Bank of Southern Pennsylvania, also comes five weeks before she undergoes surgery for a slow-growing cervical cancer that doctors first diagnosed three years ago.


"I'm not worried about the surgery," High said. "I have faith."

High, who works at Rite Aid in Greencastle, said she bought the tickets from the wife of a man who died of cancer.

High was not actually among the 200 or so people who gathered along the banks of the Conococheague Creek to witness the slow-motion race featuring more than 2,500 rubber ducks at the Greencastle Sportsmen's Grounds.

Lon Bender of Mercersburg, Pa., chairman of the Duck Derby, said the amount raised for the cancer society had not been totaled. Sales of the ducks alone, however, would bring in about $12,500.

More money will come from sales of food and T-shirts, as well as raffles.

There are some expenses to run the race, but Bender said the use of the grounds was donated, along with prizes awarded for the first 30 ducks to cross the finish line. Donated door prizes also were handed out.

Members of Greencastle Boy Scout Troop 99 lugged half a dozen barrels of the tiny rubber ducks into the middle of the creek, then dumped them into the slow-moving current. As the creek narrowed, the current and pace picked up.

Still, it only took about five or six minutes for High's duck to reach the finish line and edge out the second-place duck by a bill's length.

Second place, an anonymously donated pair of hot-air balloon rides, went to Sean Melvin of Mechanicsburg, Pa. Aleshia Machamer of Shippensburg, Pa., backed the third-place duck and won a complete car detail from a McConnellsburg, Pa., car dealership.

Restaurants, golf courses, florists, appliance centers and a taxidermist were among the businesses that donated cash or products and services.

"A portion goes to research, a portion goes to advocacy, and patient services is another portion," said Janet Stevens, administrative secretary for the Franklin-Fulton American Cancer Society. The derby is one of several events the society sponsors each year.

"The Relay for Life is our signature event," she said of the fund-raiser for teams of walkers. Other major fund-raisers include Daffodil Days, a fall dance auction and an auction held annually in Waynesboro, Pa.

For its first dozen years, the derby was held at Martin's Mill Covered Bridge Park, but increased liability insurance became a problem for the association that owned the bridge and it is soon to become property of Antrim Township.

Bender said the derby will stay at the sportsmen's grounds for a number of reasons, including plenty of room for parking and activities like the inflatable "bounce house" brought in to keep young children busy.

"We're trying to make this more a day you can bring your family," Bender said. Food sales were added at the suggestion of people who attended last year's derby.

"I've come here every day for the past five or six years," said Tina Crider of Chambersburg, who brought her Sunday School class from Park Avenue United Methodist Church.

"This is the first time I've won anything, too," Crider said of the $10 phone card she won as a door prize. Financially, however, she did not come out ahead for the day.

"Not considering I bought $25 worth of ducks," she said.

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