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Winning the derby grand prize


Rotary President Bill McMillan looks on as Bets Byrtus accepts keys for grand prize Mazda 2 from dealership owner Rick Bishop. Bill Schlichting

After a Tidewater dump truck dumped 5,000 little rubber duckies into the Chetco River Sunday during the fourth annual Wild Rivers Ducky Derby at Loeb State Park, it appeared it was going to be a fast race.

The duckies raced down the riffle so fast that many managed to get past a boom to keep them from floating behind a rock. However, once the flock reached a pool near the beginning of the course, most of the duckies followed the current that pitted them against the bank. This made it easy to gather the ducks in the end, but also caused many spectators to wonder if any ducks would make it to the finish line.

Then, one ducky broke free and floated slowly downstream where a boom was placed across the river in the shape of a funnel with a collection barge in the middle. People anticipated a winner. The ducky hit the boom near the shore and stopped, as did a second and third following behind.



 It was the fourth ducky to break free from the tight-knit flock that floated directly into the chute. Not only was it the first to cross the finish line but was the first of among about 1,900 – nearly the same number as last year – to have an adoption number. It was a winner. Daryn Farmer, who was sitting on the barge, raised his arms in victory.

Not until the race was declared over did anyone know who adopted the duck – longtime Brookings resident Bets Byrtus. She was the winner of the grand prize, a 2011 Mazda 2, with a sticker price of $14,730, that was donated by Bernie Bishop Mazda in Brookings.

It wasn’t until Thursday that Byrtus met with Rick Bishop, dealership owner, to take delivery of the car.

“I was driving home from Medford when Corky (Bets’ husband) called to say, ‘Guess who won the car,’” Byrtus said. 

She told him she thought it was one of their friends, but after she tried several guesses, he told her she was the winner.

“That’s when I became all excited,” Byrtus said.

Byrtus was a last-minute ducky adopter. She purchased five duckies on the Friday afternoon before the race from Moira Fossum of the Curry Health Network.

Nine other people won prizes at the event. These people were the owners of the next nine duckies with numbers attached. Winners were:

•Daily coffee for a year from Dutch Bros, a $1,095 value – Joe Larson;

•A one-year couple’s gym membership from Fitness at the Club, a $783 value – Laurie Schmutz;

•A $500 gift certificate from Harbrook Jewelers – Rory Smith;

•Jet boat trips from Jerry’s Rogue Jets, a $360 value – Richard Juneau;

•A golf package from Salmon Run, valued at $256 – Matt Myer;

•A $200 gift certificate from Les Schwab Tire Center – Gloria Sherman;

•Auto detailing, a $125 value, from Suiter’s Paint and Body – Marilyn Hart;

•A $50 Fred Meyer gift card – KayLee Kocher.

The derby raised $20,852,  more than $4,000 more than last year, to be divided among fundraising partners, said Rotary Derby Chair Bonnie Northrup. Partners are Habitat for Humanity, South Coast Humane Society, Brookings-Harbor High School girls basketball team, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Curry General Hospital Auxiliary, Outreach Gospel Mission, Newspapers in Education, The Shelter Project and Art Takes A Village.



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