Kevin and Shannon Sallo of Springfield and their sons, Parker, 8, and Kingston, 3, spent part of Labor Day hunting ducks.
Only these were miniature rubber ducks, floating down the Lazy River at Knight’s Action Park as part of the annual Ducky Derby to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois.
“We followed them around (the course). The kids had fun while we were doing it,” Kevin Sallo said. “We bought ducks to support the cause and went out with the kids to have a little fun.”
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Final numbers weren’t available at the end of the run, but officials said more than $10,000 had been raised and they hoped to approach or eclipse last year’s $12,000 mark.
The winning rubber duck was purchased by Susan Schultz.
Families with children up to age 21 who receive medical care receive private lodging and home-cooked meals at the Ronald McDonald House at 610 N. Seventh St.
The charity works primarily with HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield, but children can receive medical care at Memorial Hospital or one of the city’s other medical facilities on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
The charity also has a home in Peoria, which partners with OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.
Ronald McDonald House CEO Amber Kaylor said Monday that capacity restrictions, in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had been lifted. The charity was able to bring back volunteers, including its Meals from the Heart program with volunteers who cook meals.
Siblings of patients are also allowed into homes, although masking is still required, Kaylor said.
Lindsay Bentivegna of Springfield has been involved with Ronald McDonald House for the past two decades. Bentivegna sits on the board as a member of the Springfield Junior League. She is also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority whose national charity is Ronald McDonald House.
“Anytime we can relieve a family’s stress, provide them with a meal and give them a place to relax and unwind, that’s something I’m always happy to do,” said Bentivegna, attorney for the political staff and privacy officer at Illinois. Juvenile Justice Department.
Former charity development director Kendyl Wear at Knight’s with her husband, Jacob, and sons, Ben, 1 1/2, and James, 3, said the Ducky Derby is “a fun family event for a good cause. This is a great organization that does so much for families in the Central Illinois area and we are thrilled to support them whenever we can.”
Kaylor came to Ronald McDonald House Charities in August 2020, just a week before the Ducky Derby. Kaylor’s former employer, the Children’s Museum of Illinois in Decatur, held a similar event for 30 years, so she was used to the concept.
“Having it in conjunction with Knight’s Action Park and being able to do it in the lazy river is a lot easier than having to build a track to race those ducks (like Decatur),” Kaylor said in laughing. “It was involved. It’s much easier for our volunteers and more enjoyable.”
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.