CHICAGO - The Chicago Ducky Derby returned downtown Thursday to a big crowd.
Athletes Ryan Murray and Michelle Anderson got to flip the lever to let the ducks dive off the Columbus bridge into the Chicago River.
"Pretty awesome. We're so awesome we can have it this year after COVID, that's for sure," Murray said.
The Chicago Ducky Derby sent 70,000 rubber ducks for a swim. Supporters had adopted them for $5 each for a chance to win prizes and help raise money for Special Olympics Illinois, which has more than the 35,000 athletes involved.
"They do 20 Olympic style sports and they are also involved in their schools in programs which really promote inclusion and acceptance. We're also one of the largest health programs in the world for people with intellectual disabilities," said Special Olympics Illinois President Dave Breen.
The splash of yellow is actually quite green. The rubber duckies are recycled from other events and local volunteers helped tag them all, including the staff from Hyatt hotels, which tagged 15,000 ducks.
Jim Werner from the Hyatt Hotels Corporation says,
"It was an incentive to get our employees back to the office. I told Dave Breen the president of Special Olympics Illinois next year we're going to go for 25,000 or 30,000," said Jim Werner of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
Duck Ambassador Mallory Taylor got to pluck the winning duck from the water. The 24-year-old from Naperville has won more than 75 Special Olympic medals in sports from bocce to basketball, but for her, this goes beyond sports.
"It's for people who have special needs, We help each other out and make new friends," Taylor said.
For Taylor, it is about friends. The head of Special Olympics Illinois says they're more like a family and were happy to be reunited at the Ducky Derby.