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Dancing, Dining & Ducks brings hope for region’s hearing impaired

Deborah Peterson • Jul 15, 2019 at 11:21 AM

Thousands of whimsical rubber ducks will once again ‘flock’ to the aid of the Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center (MRSHC) to hold a very special fundraiser for the hearing impaired in the Appalachian region. Staff members are working hard to get all their ducks in a row as they prepare for the third annual Dancing, Dining and Ducks fundraiser to be held on July 27 at the Kingsport Aquatic Center.

The mission of the MRSHC is to provide speech and hearing services to residents of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Finance manager and special events coordinator Karen Dale explained the importance of this event. “We’re not here to make a ton of money; we just need to break even. That’s what these fundraisers help us to do,” she said. Last year, the event raised a little over $22,000 and 2,800 ducks were sponsored. This year, Karen said they hope to raise at least $25,000. There are 5,000 ducks available to be sponsored.

The MRSHC helps many people, the majority of whom are children. “Unfortunately, in our region, we have a lot of children who need help,” Karen said. “Communication is everything. If you can’t communicate, your quality of life goes down, even for a child,” she added.

When little Ayden first came to the center, he would not talk or even make many sounds. His grandmother, Ginger Griffits, said Ayden now talks and plays with other children. “He talks about everything and he even sings,” she said. “I can’t begin to tell everyone how the staff at the Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center has changed my grandson’s life.” Karen said she enjoys it when Ayden stops by her office to say hello. “He is just the cutest little fellow and he loves to say the word ‘ducks,’ so he always stops by my office to see all of them,” she said.

These ducks represent the hope of hearing and speech to many people, and there are several ways that you can help to make that hope a reality.

First, sponsor as many ducks as you can! This can be done online at www.kingsportducks.org. The more ducks you sponsor, the greater your chances to win the grand prize of $2,500, as well as many other great prizes. Second, attend the entertaining event at the Kingsport Aquatic Center. Watch as thousands of ducks are launched into the lazy river and cheer them on in the hopes that one of the ducks plucked from the water has your number on it! There will be music, dancing and food; as well as activities for children, such as face painting and games. Admission is free. Third, watch where you’re walking! All around Kingsport, ‘lucky-duck’ rocks have been strategically placed. If you find one of these painted duck rocks, bring it to the MRSHC at 301 Lewis Street to receive two free duck entries.

The top 10 prizes include the $2,500 grand prize, a two-night stay at Wilderness of the Smokies, a Family Splash Pack membership at the Kingsport Aquatic Center, two nights at the General Morgan Inn in Greeneville, a round of golf for four at the Cattails at Meadowview, two tickets to the National Storytelling Festival, two tickets to Barter Theatre, a family membership at Bays Mountain Park, and four tickets to the Hands On! Museum/Gray Fossil Site. Duck sponsors do not need to be present to win the top 10 prizes but must be present to win other great prizes such as two children’s bicycles, gift cards to restaurants, movie passes, a free Pals sweet tea once a week for a year, and many more.

You can help spread the hope of hearing and speech. Follow the ducks to the Kingsport Aquatic Center at 1820 Meadowview Parkway in Kingsport at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 27. To learn more about the Dancing, Dining and Ducks fundraiser, call Karen Dale at (423) 246-4600 or go online at www.kingsportducks.org.

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