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CASA’s ducks ready for big race

Staff, volunteers account for each rubber animal

Becky Galbreath (center), a volunteer training supervisor for the Clayton County's Court-Appointed Special Advocates group, was one of 26 staff and volunteers who counted ducks Sunday for the organization's annual Darlin' Duck Derby.

Becky Galbreath (center), a volunteer training supervisor for the Clayton County's Court-Appointed Special Advocates group, was one of 26 staff and volunteers who counted ducks Sunday for the organization's annual Darlin' Duck Derby.

— Clayton County Court-Appointed Special Advocates’ little rubber ducks won’t officially race each other for another week, but CASA Supervisor Griffin Shirley and Volunteer Supervisor Kimberly Walker just couldn’t wait that long.

So, they did the next best thing Sunday — they raced each other to see who was the fastest at counting ducks during CASA’s annual “Counting of the Flock” event at Heritage Cadillac Saab Mitsubishi in Morrow.

Walker won by a few quacks.

“Are you finished already Kim,” said Shirley, approximately 10 minutes after they got started.

“Yep, I won,” said Walker, as she let out a laugh.

“No way,” said Shirley jokingly. “I think you cheated. We’ve got photos of you counting. I want to see the photos, to see if you cheated.”

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Curt Yeomans

Ellenwood youth Faith London, 8, helps count ducks Sunday for Clayton County Court-Appointed Special Advocates' upcoming Darlin' Duck Derby, during a "Counting of the Flock" event in Morrow.

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Curt Yeomans

Lee Boyd, a volunteer for Clayton County's Court-Appointed Special Advocates group, counts ducks Sunday for CASA's annual Darlin' Duck Derby.

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Curt Yeomans

Clayton County Court-Appointed Special Advocates staff and volunteers counted 4,000 rubber ducks Sunday for the group's upcoming Darlin' Duck Derby. Each duck must be counted, and its presence verified, before the annual race.

Twenty-six CASA staff members and volunteers spent Sunday afternoon getting ready for the group’s upcoming 14th Annual Darlin’ Duck Derby, by counting each of the 4,000 ducks that will race in the derby. The counters spent the afternoon checking each duck to make sure all of them were accounted for and ready to race in the derby.

“It’s sort of the kick-off to Duck Week, if you will,” said CASA Child Welfare Services Coordinator Gerald Bostock. “We have to count and verify each duck is here. Then we store them in boxes, and we don’t open the boxes again until the day of the race so we can make sure none of the ducks have been tampered with.”

The Darlin’ Duck Derby will be held Sept. 29, from 10 a.m., until 3 p.m., on the lawn of the Historic Clayton County Courthouse, located at 121 South McDonough St., in Jonesboro.

The race is the big annual fundraiser for CASA, whose staff and volunteers act as advocates for children’s needs and well-being during court proceedings.

There will several festival-type events, including games and dancing for attendees, but the actual race is expected to take place sometime around mid-day, said Bostock.

Each duck is slightly smaller than the palm of a person’s hand, and each one has a number written on its underside. The ducks are kept in the boxes tat correspond to their number, and each box holds 300 ducks. Counters occasionally came across stray ducks and had to go searching for its rightful home.

“Who’s got a below 1,000 number,” said Jason Galbreath, husband of CASA volunteer training supervisor Becky Galbreath. He was looking for the home box for a duck he had come across in his stack of ducks.

“Down here, Jason, I’m down here, what have you got,” said Shirley. He had moved his counting to the floor after his loss to Walker in the counting race.

Although there were thousands of ducks which needed to be counted, the staff and volunteers had the job finished within an hour and a half.

“We get it done quick,” said Bostock. “It used to take us all afternoon to do it, but we’ve gotten smarter every year about how to do this.”

Bostock said the group’s volunteers will spend this week preparing the courthouse for the derby. The tower the ducks are launched from is expected to be set up Monday, and a walk through of the event will take place Tuesday. A private reception for the derby’s sponsors will take place Thursday night, and the actual race course will be set up Friday.

Clayton News Daily and Heritage Cadillac-Saab-Mitsubishi are “Diamond”-level sponsors for the derby, and there are 23 other corporate sponsors at the “Platinum,” “Gold,” “Silver,” Bronze” and “Copper” levels.

Bostock said people can still buy ducks to have in the race for $5 per duck or $25 for a “Six Quack” or ducks.

The owner of the winning duck will receive a $2,000 cash prize and is eligible for a chance to win a 2012 Cadillac SRX donated by Heritage Cadillac-Saab-Mitsubishi. The owner of the second place duck will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Any person who wants to buy a duck should log onto www.ducksrcoming.com, or call 678-610-1061. Ducks will also be available for purchase the morning of the race, on the courthouse lawn, said Bostock.