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Silicon Valley Duck Race a Success for Nonprofits

Fourth annual event sells enough ducks to support its network of charities.

Last-minute promotion of the fourth annual Silicon Valley Duck Race at Vasona Lake County Park Sunday paid off with organizers selling enough ducks to raise money for their 17 charities.

Although organizers couldn't quite hit their 15,000 ducks-sold goal, duck race director Joanne Johnson Felt said the race's sponsor—Los Gatos-based Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley—set a "realistic" goal of 13,500 and sold 13,502.

"It was a great duck race," said Johnson Felt after the festival. 

Johnson Felt also said the event this year drew a record crowd with estimates at more than 5,000 people. "We couldn't get people out of the park," Johnson Felt said. "We closed at 3 p.m. and at 3:30 p.m. we had 1,500 people scattered around the area still."

The festival started at 11 a.m., and a preliminary race near the boat launch at the started at noon included 1,000 ducks floating down the water all in the name of charity. The second heat started at 1:30 p.m. with 15,000 ducks. 

The event also included fun activities for children, carnival games, critters to explore from, a building project from Home Depot, fun with Treehouse in the Glen and duck education from environmental volunteers. There was also music, food and prizes for participants.

"We were amazingly successful," said Mindy Berkowitz, executive director of Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley. "Of the four duck races that we've had this one, for sure, was the busiest. We were packed and the weather was perfect."

Berkowitz said after news started spreading Friday that the organization was more than 5,000 ducks short of selling its 15,000 goal, it sold $1,500 worth of ducks on Saturday.

And this year the event included an auction which helped raise extra funds, Berkowitz said. 

The "duck buddy" charities included Hope Services, Hospice of the Valley, Yavneh Day School, Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center, Alzheimer's Association, Diabetes Society, Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, Children's Discovery Museum, Youth Science Institute, Junior League of San Jose, Festival Theatre Ensemble, South Bay Blue Star Moms, Valle Monte League Inc., Habitat for Humanity Silicon Valley, Presentation Center, Access and the event's lead organizer and charity—Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley.

"It was awesome," said Johnson Felt.

Participants bought ducks for $5, a family of ducks for $25, a club of ducks for $50 and a flock of ducks for $100. Such purchases and business and private sponsorships  help the organization raise more than $100,000 every year to support its charities.

This year's gold sponsor was Jack Moore and Bonnie Slavitt Moore with several silver, bronze and media sponsors such as El Camino Hospital, State Farm, Yellow Checker Cab, 94.5 K-Bay, Camera Cinemas, Trader Joe's, Lucky and others.

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