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St. Clair Shores

April 26, 2013

On your mark, get set, float!

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

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No longer content with mere bathtubs, rubber ducks will float in the waters of the Chapaton Retention Basin this month.

Put on by the Shorewood Kiwanis, the first Rubber Ducky Race for Autism will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 18 at the Chapaton Retention Basin, 23001 Nine Mile Road, to benefit the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Henry Ford Health System.

Marianne Langlois, director of the department of family medicine for Henry Ford Health System, a Kiwanis member and co-chair of the event, said the health system’s applied behavioral analysis therapy program recently moved into the Jefferson Avenue clinic. Children on the autism spectrum participate in the therapy up to three times a week, often costing their parents thousands of dollars out-of-pocket annually. Until recently, the service was not covered by insurance.

Even now, she said, the federal government has approved the therapy for Medicaid coverage, but other than Blue Cross, she said, no other insurance has begun covering the service.

“They did have a grant and it ran out, so we’re trying to replenish that grant for the families that can’t afford it,” Langlois said. “It’s amazing the difference when you do behavioral modification for these kids. It just helps so much.”

She said they’re hoping to raise $5,000 with the inaugural race and, if it is successful, will make it an annual event. To participate, donors will sponsor a rubber ducky for $5 or six ducks for $25. The donor will be assigned a ticket number that matches the duck, and whoever’s duck reaches the finish line first will win. First prize will win a gift basket worth $500, second place will win a basket worth $250 and third a basket worth $100. There will also be additional prize raffles for all entrants.

Langlois said at 12:30 p.m. the day of the race, they’ll stand on top of the walkover at the retention basin and a Public Works employee will open the gates, “which will make the water flow and they’ll go toward the building.”

Shorewood Kiwanis Club Secretary Tom Ulrich said they appreciated the help they’ve received from the Macomb County Public Works Department, who is letting the group use the Chapaton Retention Basin for the race.

“They’ll bounce up against the … water treatment plant and we’ll be able to announce a winner,” he said.

The day will also include clowns, balloons and games for children, as well as refreshments for purchase, raffles and 50/50 drawings.

And all proceeds from the day will go toward the behavioral analysis therapy that Langlois said is so greatly needed.

It “makes a difference how they’re able to acclimate in this world,” she said. “They just bring them out of their shell and get them to interact.”

Organizers are also looking for T-shirt and event sponsors to help make the fundraiser a success, as well as sponsors for each ducky. To donate, sponsor or get a duck in the race, visit shorewoodkiwanis.org/ rubber-ducky-race.html.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.