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A $12 donation made by Adam Brabec to the Columbus Area United Way quickly turned into $10,000 after one of the two entrants he purchased to compete in this year's Lazy River Duck Run floated to success.

The Columbus man has participated and supported the nonprofit's endeavors year after year, but has gone home empty handed after every campaign. The tides, however, recently turned for the BD Medical employee when his duck edged out nearly 18,000 others during a lap around the slowly moving body of water.

Some drop a sizable amount of cash every year to improve their odds of winning, but Brabec traditionally has purchased just two ducks. Reflecting upon last week's victory, Brabec said it turned out to be a pretty lucrative decision to keep the tradition alive.

“It’s definitely one of the best investments I’ve ever seen,” he said, with a laugh, referencing his better than 800 percent profit.

After taxes Brabec will keep about $7,000 of that lump sum, which is still a pretty penny. Days later, he's still trying to wrap his head around the fact that he was named this year’s big winner during Columbus Days.

“I really haven’t thought about how I am going to spend it,” he said of his winnings. “It’s still a shock that I won, so I’m still just processing that.”

Jo Suess, development director of the United Way – and also this year’s Columbus Days Queen Isabella, noted how the Lazy River Duck Run is a real game changer for the nonprofit organization. The local United Way has a mission of improving the education, financial situation and overall health of those living in Platte, Colfax, Boone, Nance, Polk and Butler Counties by partnering with other area agencies.

“This is the kick-start of our Annual Campaign,” Suess said of the Duck Run. “We (this year) netted about $65,000 off this race, and proceeds go to our direct programs and other partner agencies. So this money is really funneling right back into the community."

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While Brabec was this year’s big winner, several others were rewarded for their participation in the United Way fundraiser.

Other winners were: Tim Battershaw, $6,000 travel voucher; Kade Wulf, $100 per month for groceries for a year; John Obrist Jr., Summer Fun package; Ted Ciboron, $1,000 Apple Store gift card; Andrea Dozier, Samsung 55-inch Smart TV; Kim Went, $1,000 Off-Campus gift card; Frank Cerros, rose 14 karat curved bar necklace; Andrew Cheever, $750 Slumberland gift card; and Anne Weber, a Traeger grill.

This year’s Lucky Duck winners, each receiving $100 in Columbus Bucks to spend at Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce affiliated businesses were: Kay Tschantre, Troy Loeffelholz, Kandie & Brooke Fiala and Janelle Preister, Tara Watchorn, Jan Fremarek, Kathryn Forney, Dave & Rhonda Whalen, Tony Matthes, Christine Arasmith, Carey Haefele, Harry & Vicki Dilfer, Cheryl Griffiths and Bill Abbot.

Business sponsors covering this year’s prizes were: Behlen Mfg. Co., Eakes Office Solutions, Pinnacle Bank, Shred Monster, BD Medical, Vishay, Columbus Tour & Travel, Hy-Vee, Sears Hometown Store, Valmont, Columbus Bank and Trust Company, Shelby Lumber, Off Campus C-Store, Bank of the Valley, Grace Jewelry, Slumberland Furniture and D.A. Davidson.

Suess, who has been a part of all 22 Duck Race campaigns, said that the event is always a great community-inclusive activity that starts the Columbus Days festivities off on a high note.

“The duck race is always a huge event for the United Way, and we are happy to be a part of Columbus Days because it just makes it so much fun doing the drawing Friday, and then they come to the park the next day not even knowing who won," Suess said.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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