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2023 CASA Ogeechee Duck Race - 1,000 rubber duckies to plunge down Lazy River at Splash on Aug. 31
Race benefits work of Court-Appointed Special Advocates for foster children
Photo Courtesy of Child Advocacy Services SEGA Ducks bobbing on the surface of the Lazy River are shown near the conclusion of the 2021 CASA Ogeechee Duck Race are seen in this image taken from underneath with a GoPro camera.

The ducks won’t be in a row for the start of the 2023 CASA Ogeechee Duck Race until noon on August 31, but participants can “buy” their rubber racing duckies now for $10 each to support the work of Court-Appointed Special Advocates for foster children.

Hosted by nonprofit Child Advocacy Services SEGA Inc., the race doesn’t actually take place in the Ogeechee River, but in the more controlled currents of the Lazy River attraction at Splash in the Boro waterpark. The most recent CASA Ogeechee Duck Race, in 2021, raised $10,000 used to recruit, train and support 10 CASA volunteers, reports Kristen Kramer, business operations director for Child Advocacy Services SEGA. The volunteers advocate for children experiencing foster care due to abuse or neglect.

“A thousand dollars a year supports one volunteer to advocate for a child in foster care,” Kramer said. “That’s the average cost for the state.”

If a duck whose number you receive in exchange for a $10 donation crosses the finish line first, you will get your choice of the two prizes: a week-long stay at the Ocean Palms Villas on Hilton Head Island or a $500 gift card. The sponsor of the second-place duck will receive the other prize.

You don’t actually receive your duck or keep it. To keep the cost of the race, which is held once every two years, low, CASA Ogeechee reuses the colorful, numbered ducks. So only 1,000 ducks will be “sold.” To purchase one while they last, visit

“We email out the numbers once they are all sold, and if they sell out, we’ll end the sale prior to August 31,” Kramer said. “But nobody gets their rubber ducky.”

Prizes, such as the Ocean Palms Villas stay, are donated by major CASA supporters to allow the cash raised to go to the support of volunteers.


What advocates do

This year’s event will benefit more than 60 children in foster care in the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit by helping to recruit and train 10 additional community volunteers to be Court-Appointed Special Advocates, Kramer said. The circuit, and CASA Ogeechee’s service area, consists of Bulloch, Effingham, Jenkins and Screven counties.

“Our CASA volunteers go through training, and then they get sworn in by a judge to advocate for the child’s best interest, and our main goal is permanency for the child,” she said. “So they talk to everybody involved with the case, from caseworkers, teachers, foster parents, biological families, siblings.”

The volunteers sometimes even accompany children to their doctors’ appointments or attend school meetings.

All of this allows the advocates “to make a recommendation to the court of what permanency looks best to the child, if it’s reunification with their biological family, termination of rights which would lead to adoption or guardianship, which is placement with a relative who is not wanting to adopt but will be the legal guardian,” she said.

CASA Ogeechee is currently serving 49% of the children in foster care in the four Ogeechee Circuit counties, so the money raised will help the program move toward its goal of serving 100%. But of the foster children not being served, about 60% are children placed outside of the circuit, with some almost as far away as Atlanta area, Kramer reports.

“So our recruitment tactic right now is to recruit people who are willing to travel to those areas, to make sure that we are serving 100 percent,” she said.

Currently the CASA Ogeechee program fields 36 trained volunteers.

Volunteer court-appointed advocates are not attorneys and do not take the place of lawyers in the process. But the volunteers are meant to advocate directly for the interests of the children, while attorneys variously represent the Department of Family and Children Services or parents or other family members.

“Almost 40 years ago a judge kept hearing from the parents’ attorneys, the DFCS attorneys, and he’s like, ‘Who’s actually here talking to represent the children?’ So that’s how CASA came about and it kind of spread nationwide,” Kramer said.

Child Advocacy Services SEGA Inc. operates both the CASA Ogeechee volunteer advocates program and the Ogeechee Visitation Centers, whose sites in Statesboro and Guyton have a wider service area than the four-county circuit.  The visitation centers host supervised visits between foster children and original family members.

On more thing: Splash, which operates weekends only after July 30, won’t actually be open Thursday, Aug. 31, for everyone to watch the duck race in-person. But it will be livestreamed on the “CASA Ogeechee Duck Race” Facebook page, race time 12 p.m.

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