Thoroughbreds, greyhounds, and rubber ducks: what do all three species have in common? They’re racing animals, of course! For the more than a decade, people have flocked to the Chicago River for the annual Chicago Ducky Derby early each August. The Derby offers participants a chance to “adopt” a rubber duck to be entered in the race. On Derby Day, the ducks, typically numbering over 60,000, are transported to Chicago’s Wabash Avenue bridge by dump truck. Once the ducks are released into the water, they race downstream until one lucky ducky crosses the finish line, winning its adopted parent a phenomenal prize, a brand new SUV.

Although the basic premise of the Ducky Derby is abundantly amusing by itself, this race has been raising funds and awareness for an even better cause, Special Olympics Illinois, for the past fifteen years. All proceeds for the Derby are donated to Special Olympics Illinois, allowing approximately 40,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities to connect and compete. This year alone, over $345,000 has been raised by the Ducky Derby.

Now is the perfect time to get involved in the Chicago Ducky Derby! While there will not be an in-person celebration on the banks of the Chicago River this year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, all festivities will be streamed online at There are still plenty of ducks to be adopted, and you can purchase some stylish merchandise to show your support for Special Olympics Illinois.

This year’s Ducky Derby will be held on Thursday, August 6. Virtual festivities will begin at 11:00 a.m. and will conclude around 1:00 p.m.

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