Aecon’s continued participation in the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia’s annual “Duck Derby” isn’t all just for the birds. For the second year in a row, Aecon Buildings Atlantic has won the coveted title of “Best Dressed Quacker” for their Maleficent, Mistress of All Evil, Disney character entry. On behalf of Aecon, Carol Lewis, Marketing/Administrative Coordinator for Aecon Buildings Atlantic, received a congratulatory plaque for their win on October 23, 2014 in Halifax.
The annual Alzheimer Duck Derby in Nova Scotia is a race involving 10,000 rubber ducks that are sent on a brief voyage along the Halifax Harbour waterfront each September during the family-friendly event. As part of the festivities, participants can also enter a costumed duck into the Best Dressed Quacker contest taking place before the race. The money raised by the event supports families living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in Nova Scotia.
Playing an integral part in the race for the past seven years, Aecon Buildings Atlantic constructs what’s known as a “duck chute” each year to help guide the thousands of rubber ducks into an enclosed holding area on the water. The chute was created following logistical and safety concerns surrounding the delivery method used to transfer the ducks from the wharf’s edge into the enclosure. Opting for a simple solution, Aecon builds the cantilever-supported chute each year and places it over the wharf for easy transfer. A short tumble through the chute and the rubber contestants are ready to ride the currents – created by a jet boat propeller – to victory.
For those looking to stand out on race day, corporate duck sponsors have an opportunity to decorate and display a Very Important Duck (VID) to enter into the Best Dressed Quacker contest as voted by the public prior to the race. The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia introduced the well-received contest in 2009 as another fundraising initiative and to further increase awareness for the Duck Derby. After ruffling some feathers on the runway, all VIDs enter a separate duck race, with winners receiving a trophy and bragging rights until next year.
Always ready to “get her sparkle on,” Carol Lewis never misses a chance to dress up a duck for the event.
“The derby is a hot topic around the office,” notes Carol, “so each year our entries become more elaborate and entertaining to put together. Typically, I start thinking about next year’s submission when a Duck Derby finishes and I begin construction over the following summer. Winning entries are displayed at our front entrance, creating a lot of conversation when visitors drop in. It’s a great way to raise awareness for the Alzheimer Society and to showcase Aecon’s efforts in supporting a truly worthwhile event.”
Although never formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Carol’s grandmother lived with a form of dementia before her passing in 2009. As her grandmother’s mental health began to fade, Carol and her family struggled to understand the impact of such a disease and reached out to the Alzheimer Society for support.
“When the days seemed so dark and emotionally draining for my family, the words of encouragement given by the Alzheimer Society were a gift,” recalls Carol. “Being educated on Alzheimer’s disease and having informative programs available helped my family so much. All of that knowledge is so powerful and by supporting the Alzheimer Society, it is a chance for me to give back. If in some way my glitter and glue can support the cause, I’ll continue to dress up a duck, and having Aecon play a role in the event adds so much more to the experience.”
The support and care received by her family solidified Carol’s involvement in the yearly fundraising event. Posing as a unique team-building exercise for her office, Carol has led her team in the adoption and dressing of a VID each year since 2010. Calling forth the hidden talents amongst her team members, Aecon’s collaborative efforts and team spirit have won the Best Dressed Quacker contest for the past two years. The team also won a VID duck race in 2010.
This year, the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia was able to raise over $120,000 from the Duck Derby due in no small part to the event’s continued growth and success, which Aecon has played a key role in.
“Aecon’s continued involvement is immensely appreciated,” says Beth Jackson, Coordinator, Community Outreach for the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. “Their level of engagement in this event coupled with their unbridled enthusiasm for making a difference in their community is truly inspiring and we’re thankful to have them as a partner.”