Rubber Duck Race -- Yes, Rubber Duck! -- To Benefit Rocky Mountain Nature Association Next Generation Fund

Rubber duck racing? Yep, that's how they raise money for charities in the Estes Valley next to Rocky Mountain National Park. And by "adopting a duck" for the race you can help the Rocky Mountain Nature Association connect more youth with the national park.

Forget the Kentucky Derby. The really big race on May 7 will be the one involving 5,000 rubber ducks jostling on the currents of the Big Thompson River near Rocky Mountain National Park.

This water-borne race, the 23rd running, was dreamed up back in 1989 as a way to raise money for charities in the Estes Valley along the park's eastern border. One of the non-profits that can benefit is the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, which hopes this year's race will help funnel some dollars into its Next Generation Fund.

By purchasing a ticket (“adopting a duck”) -- they go for $20 via mail or in person, or $21 on-line -- and choosing the Rocky Mountain Nature Association as the beneficiary, you can help the association reach more than 30,000 kids each year through educational programs, such as Junior Ranger, the American Conservation Corps, Heart of the Rockies Environmental Education, and Rocky Mountain Field Seminars.

The Duck Race is simple. You “adopt” little rubber duckies and select one of 69 different Estes Valley charities to benefit from your adoptions. These charities will receive 95 percent of the monies collected from your adoptions. The more ducks that are adopted for a particular charity, the more money that charity makes.

Along with helping to fund your favorite Estes Valley charity, you can come away with a pretty neat prize. The first 500 ducks to cross the finish line will win such items as:

--46-inch Samsung LED TV

--MacBook Computer

--TomTom XL 350M GPS

--Nintendo Wii

--HP OfficeJet 6500 wireless all-in-one printer

And don't worry, you need not be present to win.