Now in its 31st year, the annual Duck Race has become the Center for Prevention of Abuse’s signature fundraiser.

“The Duck Race is an amazing opportunity for the Center for Prevention of Abuse to not only raise funds, but also awareness,” said Carol Merna, Center for Prevention of Abuse chief executive officer. “We spend a number of months putting together our operation. We adopt out little rubber ducks for $5 apiece.”

Thousands of adopted ducks are assigned to donors and are placed at the top of a 1,000-foot slip-and-slide for a chaotic race to the bottom for prizes, Merna added. The Duck Race is scheduled for Aug. 24 at Eastside Center, 1 EastSide Drive, East Peoria. Pre-race fun activities will begin and 4 p.m. and post-time for the Ducky Derby is 6 p.m.

This year’s grand prize is $10,000 and is sponsored by Associated Bank.  

“There are 31 prizes for our 31st year,” Merna said. “This is the first year we’ve (offered a) $10,000 (first prize). It had been $5,000. We just wanted to get greater attention to the opportunity. People get excited about winning a prize. It’s human nature. Somebody said ‘If I win, it’s a down payment on my new house.’”

Merna hopes area residents will adopt 30,000 ducks for the race. So far, the Center for Prevention of Abuse has sold about 25,000 adoptions. In all, she is hoping to raise about $200,000.

“One hundred % of the proceeds go to client care,” Merna said. “All of the overhead has been taken care of (through sponsorships), so all of the money we raise from adopting ducks goes to all the services we provide.”

Merna said the race itself is far from the only attraction. The event will also feature live music from the Canton-based band Doghouse Daisy, disc jockeys from the Peoria radio station 106.9 The Mix, food trucks, a beer garden and children’s activities including bounce houses and face painting.

“The Center for Prevention of Abuse’s mission is to help all people live free from violence and abuse,” she said. “Statistics show that all of us know somebody who has been victimized in an abusive situation. When people help support the Center for Prevention of Abuse, they’re helping their neighbors, their families and their friends. All the services we provide affect people they know. So, people really do step up for us, and we’re grateful for that. We’d love for people to just come out and enjoy themselves. It’s a really cool sight to see all those little yellow rubber ducks (all wearing sunglasses) come down that slide. A lot of excitement gets built up.”

For more information about the event, visit duckracepeoria.com.