August 11, Aspen CO. Glenwood Springs Resident Miguel Mendoza won the top prize - $10,000 - in the Rotary Club of Aspen's Ducky Derby on Saturday, August 11. Mendoza bought three ducks from a representative of Glenwood High School Cheer, one of about 15 youth groups who partner with the Rotary Club to sell ducks on behalf of their organizations.
Now in its 27th year, this year's floating duck race was threatened by low water levels in the Roaring Fork River. Fortunately, Saturday afternoon's race was saved by two factors. First, the Salvation Ditch Co. agreed to stop diverting water shortly before the race - creating a dramatic increase in the flow of the Roaring Fork. Second, members of the Rotary Club found a way through the Club’s advanced computer program to randomize the duck serial numbers so that everyone who "adopted" a duck had an even chance of winning, even though a reduced number of rubber ducks had to be poured into the river.
Photo: "Head Duck" Mike Connolly congratulates Miguel Mendoza
Over 27,000 ducks were adopted and all associated numbers were entered into and counted in the race. It was the first time that theClub had to be creative with the technology that allows the adopted ducks to be assigned numbers in the computer.
According to Rotarian and "Head Duck" Michael Connolly, this year's Ducky Derby is expected to distribute more than $200,000 to local youth groups, high school scholarships, and international service projects. “We are extremely grateful to the Salvation Ditch Company for their cooperation to help alleviate the low water conditions,” says Connolly. “We also extend our immense gratitude to the locals and visitors who support our causes each year by adopting ducks. As a result, we can do a lot of good in our Valley and around the world,” he says.
Every year since 1992, the 80 business men and women in the Rotary Club of Aspen engage in the Ducky Derby fundraiser where the public “adopts” a rubber duck for $10 or less, and thousands of those adopted” ducks are dumped into the Roaring Fork River at No Problem Bridge where they float down to a finish area. All of the proceeds of the duck adoptions are distributed to Rotary Club of Aspen’s youth, health and human service causes via college scholarships, local non-profits and international projects. Since 1986, the Club has donated over a half million dollars to its high school scholarship recipients in Aspen and Basalt. Between $25,000 and $35,000 are donated each year to 15-20 different health and human service organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Aspen Rotary has distributed about $120,000 over the past five years to global projects in Latin American countries, Africa and India that focus on disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, education and literacy. One of the Club’s most consistent donations over the years has been to the Guatemala Literacy Project, which provides textbooks and scholarships to students in Guatemala.