The Summit Foundation organizes the 34th edition of the Great Rubber Duck Race

Spectators watch thousands of rubber ducks float down the Blue River at Breckenridge on Saturday September 4th. The ducks are part of the Great Rubber Duck Race organized by the Summit Foundation.
Jenna deJong / Summit Daily News

The Summit Foundation has been Summit County’s largest cheerleader since the 1980s. Since then, it has distributed over $ 45 million in grants to nonprofits and scholarships to students, and part of that money was raised during the Great Rubber Duck Race, a must-see community event that has been around for 34 years.

The organization hosted the event virtually last year, but Executive Director Jeanne Bistranin and Director of Events and Marketing Brian Balok agreed it hadn’t made as much noise as in normal years. Balok said the event usually draws a large crowd because of its tradition, but also because it’s a way of giving back.

“People really appreciate it,” Balok said. “It’s Labor Day weekend too, so they have time to go out and check it out. It is mainly for the tradition and also because they know that it helps the community. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, so we’re so excited to be getting out here.



The day started on Saturday September 4 with a race for children 12 and under. Ducks cost $ 10. The next race was a “trade battle” where local businesses bought a duck for $ 100. The last race, and the grand finale, was the Great Duck Race. The ducks cost $ 5 and the winner received a grand prize of $ 1,500.

The races are not a joke either. Balok said the children’s run typically receives around 400 to 700 rubber ducks, the commercial battle 300 to 400, and the big run around 10,000. The ducks are released at Maggie Pond in Breckenridge, where they descend the Blue River along. from the Blue River Plaza. To help the ducks on their journey, volunteers paddle board or wade through the shallow river to help those who are stuck or moving slowly.



The winners of each race received various awards from local businesses, including a VIP snowcat tour at Keystone Resort. Other prizes included ski passes and gift certificates for restaurants and spas.

This year, Bistranin said the organization has sold more than 10,000 ducks for the Great Race, 861 ducks for the children’s race and 260 business fighting ducks. In total, the organization raised over $ 140,000.

With prizes like these and the expectation to see 10,000 rubber ducks float down the river, it’s no wonder this is the organization’s biggest event of the year. Bistranin said that this particular event typically earns around $ 150,000, sometimes more. Other sources of funding for the community foundation come from its ski medallion program, which Bistranin says accounts for about 40% of the organization’s total funding. It also receives donations from 3,600 donors, 26 companies and other events such as its annual golf tournament.

With all of these funding sources, the organization is able to support many different causes in the community, such as arts and culture, health and social services, youth development, and environmental causes. In addition to supporting Summit County, the foundation even supports Fairplay, Kremmling and Leadville, where many Summit County workers live.

Among all of these causes, Bistranin said the organization is a leader in supporting education and working families, but over the past year has particularly focused on disaster relief efforts. pandemic.

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve been laser-focused on COVID relief,” Bistranin said. “We had our Summit County Cares fund that met basic COVID relief needs, and it was $ 850,000 that the community donated to us and that we gave directly to nonprofits in the community. It met basic needs like food, mental health, child care, and whatever else people needed. “

In addition to this fund, the organization also offered a series of additional grants to all of its nonprofits, amounting to an additional $ 700,000.

According to the Summit Foundation’s annual report for 2020, the organization has donated more than $ 4.5 million to the community. Of this, 74 nonprofit organizations received grants.

Balok said it’s this level of support that makes the Summit Foundation a vital part of the community.

“We have a big impact in the community. Whatever we do, we are always focused on supporting all different aspects of the community, be it the frontline workers, the (Family and Intercultural Resource Center), updating the trails … we cover it all. .

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