Rancho Bernardo’s rubber ducky race has poignant twist
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Chalk it up to luck, fate or a higher power. Whatever was leading the rubber duckies racing along Webb Park Lake was determined to help the late Bob Wells make one last impact on his beloved Rancho Bernardo.
The race, part of Rancho Bernardo’s 50th birthday party celebration on Sept. 22, was organized by Wells, who for the last several months was busy selling the $5 ducks all over town as a fundraiser to cover part of the community party’s costs.
The winning duck’s owner was to win $500.
To sell as many of the 500 ducks as possible, Wells included in his sales pitch the idea that people should buy two — one in their name, the other in the name of an organization to which they belong. If the latter duck won, the group would get the $500 for use in its philanthropic works.
In a sad twist of fate, Wells was unable to witness the duck race he had spent so much time organizing. He was in the hospital due to complications from recent surgery. The morning after the race, the 84-year-old Wells died.
Marty Judge, the party’s chairman, said organizers knew soon after the race that the duck was purchased in the name of Rancho Bernardo “Noon” Rotary Club, but that was all.
On Wednesday evening, Rotary president Dave Brooks said he learned the duck’s number — 47 — and went home to look through the tickets since he had those for the 11 ducks purchased in the name of the club to see who was the buyer.
The Rotarian’s name on the ticket — Bob Wells.
“I just smiled,” Brooks said. “I couldn’t believe it. … It was so appropriate and ironic.”
Duck 47 was the only one Wells purchased on the Rotary club’s behalf, Brooks said.
At the club’s weekly meeting on Thursday, Brooks said he informed his fellow Rotarians.
“The room was in stunned silence,” Brooks said of the members’ reactions.
The club has yet to decide what it will do with the $500, Brooks said. He would like the money to go toward the Rotarians’ clean water project in Ecuador, but said the decision is up to the club membership.
Judge said Wells was hoping to make a $1,000 profit through the race, but a $2,000 profit was made instead because all 500 of the ducks were sold by race time.
“He was an overachiever up to the end,” Judge said, adding had more ducks been available those too could have been sold due to demand.
- Buy a rubber duck for a chance to win $500
- Party on Sept. 22 will celebrate RB’s 50 years
- Rancho Bernardo civic leader Bob Wells dies
- Rotary clubs in Rancho Bernardo have new presidents
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