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TOY DUCKS RACE TO FULFILL KIDS’ DREAMS

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Releasing the lever that freed 13,346 rubber ducks from the dump truck to the river, Cindy Provost smiled for the dreams the bobbing yellow toys represent.

As the mass of ducks flowed downstream on the Jordan River Parkway Saturday, she wasn't thinking so much of which duck would win the fund-raising derby. Instead, she was feeling happy that the ducks will provide a chance for children like her to do "whatever they want to do in the world" through Utah's Make-A-Wish Foundation."It's so neat that these little ducks will give all other terminally ill kids in Utah a chance to have their dreams come true," said 13-year-old Cindy.

Her dream is to take a cruise at Disney World in Florida. Seeing thousands of rubber ducks - adopted by families, children and corporations at $5 a duck - and hearing the cheering crowds on the river bank, Cindy realized her life's wish could come true.

"It's hard to say, really, how happy I feel. This makes me feel really good. I'm excited to be here," she said. "I'm glad people want to help us."

Christine Sharer, president of Make-A-Wish, shares Cindy's perspective and gratitude to Utahns for supporting Utah's first Rubber Ducky Derby.

Lack of money had placed Sharer in the difficult position of turning to other Make-A-Wish chapters outside the state for assistance because she doggedly refused to reject any child's wish.

When she asks children, who have generally spent months in a hospital bed, "What would you choose to do if you could do anything you want?" she does not put a limit on their dreams. Since 1985, the non-profit organization has granted the wishes of more than 60 children. Their requests have ranged from a helicopter ride in the clouds to a swim in a hot tub.

Make-A-Wish volunteers are arranging wishes for eight Utah children. "The need is growing each year," said Sharer. "Parents confronted with medical bills and children needing hope need to know we are here."

As the first duck rounded the corner at the Cottonwood Park finish line, hundreds of spectators stood and clapped. Forty minutes was the record time. The "adopted parent" of the winning duck, Derk Meima, won a Chevrolet Geo Tracker.

The derby raised nearly $67,000 for the foundation.