Every once in a while, a sweet story comes along.
Winthrop Kiwanis Club is a group of hard-working souls whose main goal is to serve the needs of kids in the community. Every year, club members busy themselves with selling Duck Race tickets starting in mid July. Many members are out of their comfort zone asking friends, family, neighbors, and strangers to buy a chance at a duck actually winning the race. On the other hand, longtime resident, retired Liberty Bell High School teacher, former Fire District 6 Commissioner and volunteer firefighter Roy Reiber is first in line for his packets of tickets to sell.
Roy and his table of tickets are a ubiquitous sight at Ace Hardware, Methow Valley Thriftway, and other places where folks are gathered. Well known in the community, Roy looks forward to seeing familiar faces and his diligence consistently earns him the top ticket selling spot. Roy is without exception present at both pre-race activities and race day start and finish. He awaits the announcement of the fastest ducks wondering if one of his tickets will be the winner.
This year, Duck No. 1144 was the clear winner smugly paddling across the finish line way ahead of No. 2. Extracted from the river, the winning ticket was pulled from the well-organized box of sold tickets. Audra won! Audra who?
Helping out the club (as my husband is a Kiwanian and coincidentally manages the Duck Race), I have had the privilege the last couple of years of calling the winners. A phone call to “Audra” (no last name) went to voice mail where I left a message about the Duck Race and a call back number. No call back.
A second phone call was placed the day after the race and a very hesitant female voice answered. “I am calling for Audra,” I explained. “Who’s calling?” she replied, warily wondering who had her cell phone number and her three-year-old daughter’s name and was calling a second time. Again, I spoke of the Duck Race while her replies expressed total confusion. Working further into the conversation, I spoke of the Winthrop Kiwanis Duck Race and that Audra’s duck came in first.
“Oh, my,” the voice expressed. “My father lives in Winthrop. Maybe he bought a ticket for his granddaughter.” I explained that the winning ticket is a $500 prize and asked if she could have her father call me.
John and Francie Williams, property owners in the valley, quickly called back with utter shock that the ticket they purchased from Roy at Methow Valley Thriftway was one of those they had bought for their grandchildren. Audra’s mother, Alexandra Hartwick from Issaquah, never heard about the ticket because, really, what were the chances that that duck would be so speedy: 1 in over 1,600 (tickets purchased).
Kiwanis Treasurer Gloria Herron will send the winning ducks to all five recipients. The next four ducks arriving at the finish line belonged to the following ticket holders: Twisp residents Jon Hawley (Duck # 804, $300) and Mary McIvor (Duck #347, $100) and Winthrop residents Brian Helm (Duck #687, $50) and Shaila Tenorio (Duck #600, $50). At least one of the winners donated the winnings back to Kiwanis.
The Duck Race ran very smoothly this year despite low water in the Methow and Chewuch Rivers. Volunteers plucked the stuck ducks. Liberty Bell High School football team members braved the cold water to stand and catch the ducks along with Kiwanians in fishing waders at the finish line. Not a single duck was lost downstream.
Proceeds will fund some of the never-ending projects that the club has on its list. Thanks to all!
On another note, are we working on the 10 Plagues of Methow here in the valley this year? First we had coronavirus, then wildfires, then smoke with accompanying dirty air, then angry hornets, then Delta variant targeting unprotected, and now, what else — gnats, fruit flies, whatever you want to call them? Ever tried to drink a glass of wine through a swarm?