Children squealed in delight as rubber duckies raced at the Santa Clarita Aquatics Center on Saturday as part of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center’s 19th annual free Duck Dash, formerly known as the Rubber Duck Festival.
The dash is the center’s fundraising event that benefits patient care. Community members had the opportunity to donate money by participating in the duck race. Attendees could choose a duck package — a single duck, a quack pack of six ducks, a quacker’s dozen of 12 ducks, or a duck flock of 24 ducks — ranging from $5 to $25, $50 and $100, respectively.
“It’s our only signature fundraiser. It helps us raise funds (that benefit) access to health care, oral hygiene, and behavioral health services to the residents of Santa Clarita, and also the neighboring communities,” said Daisy Wyche, the event coordinator who is also an administrative manager for the center.
In addition to the duck dash, attendees participated in face painting, duck-o-ration booth, games and more. More than $3,500 was raised at the Duck Dash, according to the event website.
Melanie Linch came to the event with her husband and two children for a day of fun for her kids, but she also learned more about what the health center offers.
Wyche said the center provides services to a range of patients, and they do not refuse services to people who may not have the ability to pay.
“Health care can be expensive, and then some of our patient bases aren’t documented, and they’re not always trusting to get services based out of fear,” Wyche said. “We calm those fears and let them know that we are here for them. We are here for anyone that needs our help.”
Gloria Mercado-Fortine, chair of the center’s board of directors, said she volunteered with the center for more than 15 years.
“I knew the Dixon family. I went with to school with them,” Mercado-Fortine said. “So, there’s a very special connection there. We are pleased that Samuel Dixon the third, who is the son of the founder, is with us and is a practicing physician with us.”
She added that the board oversees three clinics operating under one center — the Samuel Dixon Family Center. She said the fundraising from the Duck Dash is critical to provide the necessary services that some families or individuals might not be able to afford otherwise.
“Health affects every facet of your life,” Mercado-Fortine said. “We strive to be a healthy community. That’s why fundraisers like this help to raise money to address the gaps, the health gaps. We may think we’re a very affluent community, but there are pockets in our community that need these services.”