Racing for the children

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 21, 2014

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Rubber ducky, you’re the one … to help local children.

Shorewood Kiwanis will host the second annual Rubber Ducky Race for Autism at the Chapoton Retention Basin May 31, when donors will race their ducks to the finish line in an attempt to win gift baskets while raising money for the little extras that help Applied Behavior Analysis work for children with autism.

Marianne Langlois, director of Family Medicine for Henry Ford Health System and a member of the Shorewood Kiwanis, said the programs at their Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities are something that can have a great impact on a child’s life.

Children who are diagnosed with autism or other developmental disabilities through Henry Ford then come to the East Jefferson Center for behavioral therapy and other services. Langlois said that insurance doesn’t cover everything, though.

“I saw the (behavioral therapists) using their own money,” she said. “Each child has to have their own little tub of toys. It’s the reward system.”

With the money raised through the first Rubber Ducky for Autism in 2013, the therapists were able to purchase iPads, iPods and trampolines to use as rewards for the children to encourage them to do well at their tasks. Apps on the tablets are also used in the therapy itself, she said.

“That’s the purpose of these funds,” Langlois said. “It all goes to the kids.”

The clinic, said Behavioral Analyst Kelley Gavigan — who is also a Shorewood Kiwanis member — is relatively new and has a very small budget.

“We’re grateful for the money that was raised,” she said at the May 5 City Council meeting.

With money raised this year, she said they would like to open a sensory room with iPads, sensory equipment and age-appropriate toys for the children to use. The rates of autism are increasing, she said, and now approximately 1 in every 66 children is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

Tom Ulrich, of the Shorewood Kiwanis, said the event will be held from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. May 31 at the Chapoton Retention Basin, 23001 Nine Mile Road.

“We dump our ducks on one side of the flood gates and then we let the lake in; that pushes them down (and) that becomes our race,” he said.

There will also be food vendors, face painting and games for children, with the actual race running at 12:30 p.m. Donors can sponsor a duck by going to and clicking on the Events Calendar and then Rubber Ducky Race. One duck is $5, or six ducks are $25. New this year is the option to pay $10 for one duck, which donors will get to personalize at 11 a.m. the day of the race and then take home afterward.

The first three ducks through the finish line — identified by race numbers on each duck — will take home a prize: a $500 gift basket for first place, a $250 gift basket for second place and a gift basket worth $100 for third place. There will also be door prizes donated by sponsors for those who don’t win the race to have a chance to take home.

The ducks will race rain or shine, and donors do not need to be present to win.