The Illinois River will soon be occupied by yellow rubber ducks as the annual Duck Race nears.
The Duck Race is The Center for Prevention of Abuse’s biggest fundraiser, with all proceeds going toward programs at the Center.
“Our big push is on our Prevention Education Services. We are expanding that program substantially to get to more schools and offer more programs,” said Carla Payne, director of development at the center.
“In the past, the demand is much higher than we can fulfill. We have hired new staff and our goal is to get into school districts and provide district-wide curriculum for those kids.”
The Center has prevention programs for preschool through college age students.
The preschool program, Keeping My Body Safe, teaches children they have a right to say no, get away and tell an adult.
“It’s teaching them the skills of how to prevent sexual abuse. As far as, they have the right to say no, whether it’s family or not family,” Payne said. “We teach all kids what to do in a fire — stop, drop and roll. We feel that all kids should be taught the skill of what to do when somebody is making them feel uncomfortable. So, they have a right to say no, get away and tell an adult.”
Another prevention education program the Center offers is the anti-bullying program, Steps to Respect.
This program relies on the entire school — not just teachers and students — but office workers, cafeteria workers, school bus drivers and parents.
“The curriculum really teaches the children and the adult how to recognize the bullying, how to refuse it and how to report it,” Payne said. “It really is making the kids feel supported and safe going to school.”
The Center, which has lost about $159,000 in state funding and about $230,000 in federal funding, relies on the Duck Race fundraiser to support its programs.
“This is our one and only and largest fundraiser, which is why the Duck Race is so important to the Center,” Payne said.
The Duck Race events begin at noon Aug. 26 on the riverfront with children’s games, live music and food.
The ducks are launched at 3 p.m., with winners announced on the spot.
Winners don’t have to be present to win.
Payne said the Duck Race is important not only to raise money for the Center’s services, but to raise awareness.
“The Center sees about 5,000 people every year who are victims of abuse. That right there says why it’s so important,” Payne said. “We have victims of domestic violence - women and children coming into our shelter here and our shelter in Pekin. We’re at capacity often, especially in the summer.
Page 2 of 2 - “We see about 500 people in our sexual assault department and our elder abuse department is booming — we had 700 new intakes last year.”
Payne said the area is lucky to have a place like the Center for Prevention of Abuse.
“It’s important people know we’re here if they’re in need of our services. It’s important for people to know that we have a center. We have a place that people can go. A lot of places don’t. We’re really fortunate to have this in this area,” she said.
Payne said although state and federal funding has been cut, the Center has not had to cut services or programs.
“Fortunately, we have not, but it doesn’t mean we won’t have to. We’ve been cautious and fiscally responsible. Cutting programs would be the last thing on our list to do,” Payne said. “But, at some point, depending on how things go, you can never say never for that.”
Those interested in purchasing ducks, or making a team to sell ducks, can visit duckrace.com/peoria.
Ducks are also being sold throughout the Tri-County Area. A list of when and where they are being sold is below.
• July 28 — Walmart on University 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• July 29 — Walmart in Morton 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 3 — Associated Bank in Chillicothe 12:30-4:30 p.m.
• Aug. 4 — Walmart in Washington 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 5 — Walmart in East Peoria 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 10 — Associated Bank on Knoxville 2-6 p.m.
• Aug. 11 — Walmart on University 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 11 — Associated Bank on Brandywine 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Aug 12 — Walmart on Allen Road 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 17 — Associated Bank on Jefferson 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Aug. 17 — Associated Bank in East Peoria 2-6 p.m.
• Aug. 18 — Schnucks 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 18 — Walmart in Morton 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 18 — Associated Bank in Pekin 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Aug. 19 — Lindy’s in Washington 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 24 — Associated Bank on Pioneer Parkway 2-6 p.m.
• Aug. 24 — Erin Feis 5-9 p.m.
• Aug. 25 — Sam’s Club 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Aug. 25 — Erin Feis noon-8 p.m.
• Aug. 26 — Erin Feis 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m.
• Aug. 26 — Duck Race sales at Riverfront noon-2:45 p.m.