Steve Gregory isn’t positive what it is that caused his 3 year old’s obsession with rubber ducks.
It may have been “Sesame Street” or some other television show, but what he is sure of is that his son, Joshua, loves collecting the floating fowl.
When he wins the duck-picking game at the carnival, his father says, he ignores the stuffed prizes, asking instead to just keep the duck he chose.
So when Joshua’s parents heard about a massive rubber duck game, featuring more than 500 of the bathtub toys floating down a resaca at Dean Porter Park Saturday, they knew they had to bring him.
“He’s been talking about it all week,” Gregory says as Joshua walks around pointing a digital camera toward the water, trying to capture the moment while a flock of bright yellow toy ducks floats by.
It’s the first time they’ve attended the Infant and Family Nutrition Agency’s rubber duck race, which is in its 14th year, but already Joshua’s father is convinced they’ll come next year, even though their two ducks, Nos. 34 and 35, finished well behind Rubber Duck No. 155, who cruised to victory in about nine minutes while nearly three dozen onlookers looked on.
It’s the IFNA’s biggest annual fundraiser, board member Susanna Zook said, as participants purchase tickets assigned to ducks which then race toward the finish line with dozens of prizes on the line.
The top 35 ducks in this year’s race won their respective sponsors’ prizes including airline tickets, a getaway to South Padre Island and a $300 Visa gift card.
The proceeds will help the IFNA to continue supporting mothers with prenatal nutritional care and breastfeeding education and supplies.
The organization, Director Jack White said, is one unlike most others in the country as it works with medical professionals, schools and mothers alike to increase awareness about prenatal needs and the benefits of breastfeeding infants.
But it’s not all education and nutrition, Zook said. Some of what the organization hopes to do as it continues into its 26th year is to challenge misinformation about breastfeeding.
“It hurts to breastfeed,” Zook said, explaining that it truly is a sacrifice by a mother made more difficult by social taboos about breastfeeding outside the home. “Some women think it’s too much of a hassle. I think what we would like to do is empower women.”
Studies have shown breastfeeding to enhance brain development, IQs, immunity and to decrease obesity in children, Zook said, showing that while the rubber ducks may have won the prizes, the true winners are the mothers and infants who will benefit from IFNA’s outreach.
And Joshua, of course, who his father said likely had his eyes on a new duck for his collection.
“That’ll probably be the grand prize for him,” he said.