EUGENE, Ore. -- The annual Great Rotary Duck Race kicked off its 30th year Tuesday.
The event is a fundraiser to help keep children in Lane County safe. At any given point in time in Lane County, over 1,000 children are in foster care. Out of that number, only about 100 of them are in the process of reuniting with their families.
The Great Rotary Duck Race works to fund organizations that try to lower those numbers by working with families to prevent abuse and neglect. Parenting Now is one of this year's agencies chosen to receive part of the funds raised.
“What we're really doing is building strengths for families so they can take their parenting skills to the next level and make really happy, functional, thriving homes and children,” said Lynne Swartz, the executive director of Parenting Now.
Swartz said their mission is to make sure that all children are raised by nurturing, skilled parents.
Organizers of the race said that Kids First encountered more than 800 abused children in 2017, both in and out of the system. Places like the Bridgeway House work with children that they say are the most susceptible to this kind of abuse -- children with autism and related disorders.
“They are the most at-risk population for any kind of abuse, bullying, or neglect because a lot of our children can't speak for themselves or communicate their needs or wants,” said Patricia Wigney, the executive director of the Bridgeway house.
Wigney said as a selected agency this year, they can't wait to use all the money they receive to provide more support to these children and their families because they know these situations can be overwhelming, especially without the right tools.
One other benefiting agency will be using the money to do something big. The Family Relief Nursery will be using it to establish respite care in their Creswell location.
“Respite care is so vitally important to these families,” said Diane Hazen, the executive director of the Family Relief Nursery. “It not only can be an opportunity for a desperately needed break, but it gives them the time they need to keep very important appointments."
Even though the duck race element is back in the event this year, it’s going to be a digital duck race instead of a live one. It will take place Nov. 8 on KEZI. You can learn more about the event here.