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Sitting duck

Watkins selling rubber ducks in Funkstown for fire company's annual race fundraiser

Watkins selling rubber ducks in Funkstown for fire company's annual race fundraiser

August 12, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - Already a familiar face around Funkstown, Joshua Watkins has been practically a fixture in front of Gracie's on Baltimore Street since early July.

That is when he began selling chances on ducks for the upcoming fire company fundraiser. Most days Watkins, 27, is there from the time the shop opens until it closes.

The annual Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. duck race is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 30, beginning at 2 p.m. And Watkins plans to be selling ducks right up to the day of the race.

"I'll be at Gracie's through Aug. 25," he said.

The little numbered plastic ducks are set adrift in the Antietam Creek. The first ones across the finish line win prizes.

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"I did this two years ago and I raised $2,000 all by myself," Watkins said as he sat in his wheelchair in front of the restaurant.

He started his vigil on July 8. As of July 25, Watkins had sold 81 ducks and 160 raffle tickets. Ducks are $5 each or $25 for seven.

First duck over the finish line wins $300. Second duck wins $200 and third wins $100. After that, the top finishers get prizes that have been donated.

The only time Watkins leaves his post is when he needs to take a bathroom break. His lunch is delivered to him courtesy of Gracie's each day, Watkins said.

"I start at 9 or 10 a.m. and stay until 6:30 p.m.," he said. "I was out here all day July 23 in the rain - I sold two ducks and got $4 in donations."

Watkins works hard to keep active, useful and positive. Born with cerebral palsy, Watkins lives independently in an apartment on West Baltimore Street in Funkstown.

Living on SSI (Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security Administration) because of his disability, Watkins has been an active social member of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. for several years.

He helps with bingo, makes posters on his computer and answers the telephones when the firefighters are all out on calls.

Before moving to Funkstown in 2000, Watkins lived in the Williamsport area, where he was active with its fire company.

Born in Baltimore, Watkins later moved to Frederick County, Md., and attended schools in Walkersville, Brunswick and Middletown.

There, he worked telethons for United Cerebral Palsy.

He earned his high school diploma from Williamsport High School in 2000.

Watkins gets around most places in town by wheelchair. Public transportation for the disabled also is available, but not always when he wants to go somewhere, he said.

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