Basking in the warmth and sunshine of a cloudless day, 2,500 people of all ages gathered at Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos on June 10 for the fifth annual Silicon Valley Duck Race. The family-friendly festival, which raised more than $90,000, was the Foundation's inaugural fundraiser for El Camino Hospital Los Gatos. Proceeds will underwrite free mammograms for underserved women in the community. Fourteen local non-profit "duck buddy" organizations that supported the effort also received a portion of the earnings.
The preliminary heat took place at noon, when 1,000 yellow rubber ducks splashed into Vasona Creek to test the waters. The main race commenced at 1:30 when all 15,000 ducks dove in and raced to the finish line, wildly cheered on by the enthusiastic crowd. The adopters of the first 18 ducks to reach the goal received prizes including $1,500 cash and a night on the town in San Jose.
In between the races, children enjoyed face painting and carnival games, happily redeeming their winning tickets at the prize booth. Families feasted on delicious food provided by a diversity of vendors such as Pizza My Heart, Tikka Bites, Baskin Robbins, Jamba Juice, and Project Cupcake. They shopped at Le Chic Duck, where they found duck apparel and accessories and they explored El Camino Hospital's health activity booths, which offered nutritional counseling, CPR training, information about the hospital's marquee programs, and a hole-in-one putting green game sponsored by the orthopedics and rehabilitation departments. Sponsors and Foundation leadership socialized in the exclusive Duck Club, where they enjoyed wine, champagne, and hors d'oeuvre.
More than 200 volunteers, including members of the Auxiliary and the women of Hope to Health Los Gatos, supported the effort, which culminated months of planning. El Camino Hospital leadership and employees enthusiastically embraced the cause, forming teams and competing to see who could sell the most ducks.
"This is a wonderful event where different organizations around the community come together to help one another," says Mishy Balaban, chair of the Foundation's Los Gatos Leadership Committee and the driving force behind the Duck Race. "It is a win-win regardless of whether or not your duck reaches the finish line because all these ducks win for the organizations on whose behalf they were adopted."