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May 8, 2013

Rubber Ducky Race helps grant wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — Hundreds of rubber ducks will race down Paint Creek in Rochester Municipal Park this month as part of a fundraiser to grant wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.

Rochester Hills residents Donetta and Ted Behen created the first Rubber Ducky Race in 2007 to honor their daughter, Morgan, who received a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her wish came true when she and her family visited Florida and swam with dolphins.

“This started out to be a big thank-you party for the community because the community of Rochester and Rochester Hills rallied around our family,” Donetta Behen said, noting that her daughter, now 19, is cancer-free.

In an effort to give others the same help and support that their family received in their time of need, the Behens decided to keep the event going. Each year since, the event has granted the wishes of at least two children from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan through its fundraising efforts.

“The first year we did it, we raised just over $3,000. This year, we’re looking at raising about $20,000 — and it goes right to the foundation,” Behen said.

Laura Heughens, whose son Ben was granted a wish by the foundation in 2011 — a trip to Disney — has helped coordinate the event for the past two years.

“It’s great community event that spreads awareness about Make-A-Wish,” she said.

This year’s fundraiser — which includes a rubber duck race, an old fashion carnival and a 5k fun run/walk — will take place in Rochester Municipal Park May 19. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. The run/walk and carnival both begin at 12:30, and the ducky launch will take place at 2 p.m.

“The ducks are launched right behind the Paint Creek Art Center, and they’ll float down to the pavilion the municipal park,” Behen said. “The first duck gets a bike, then after that, we have 12 prizes. We’ve got a little kids work bench set, an easel, a big huge blow-up duck for a lake or behind a boat. We have so much stuff.”

Ducks cost $4 each, or three for $10, and are available at Musson, Long Meadow and Delta Kelly elementary schools, as well as Brookfield Academy. Ducks will also be sold the day of the event.

Email Donetta Behen at Behen3gr@aol.com to reserve ducks, and visit the www.rochesterrubberduckyrace.org for race information, sponsorship opportunities or to donate a raffle item.

For more information on the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit www.wishmich.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.