The Best “Dumb Idea” Ever

When Bob Edwards first had the idea of holding a fundraiser with thousands of rubber ducks, he floated the idea past his fellow board members at Freestore Foodbank.

One had a strong reaction: “That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. That really is a dumb idea, Bob.”

Sylvia Edwards laughs as she recounts this story about her late husband, whose “dumb idea” went on to become arguably one of the most famous fundraising events in the nation.

“That was all Bob needed to hear,” says Sylvia, recalling the board member’s reaction. “Bob took it from there. And, of course, it’s gotten bigger and bigger over the years.”

Sylvia, married to Bob for 55 years before his death in 2014, has been involved all along — numbering ducks beforehand, power-washing them after, and everything in between.

“I bailed ducks out of the river the first year, and every single year after until the event went virtual,” she says. “And after Bob was gone, I always bailed out the first batch.”

That “first batch” is vital, because they’re the ones that win prizes. The first duck plucked wins a new car donated by Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Honda Dealers.

Sylvia recalls one particular year when Duck No. 1 had a familiar name.

“Scott Edwards,” Sylvia says, laughing again. “Bob said something like, ‘Uh-oh, that’s our son!’ It can’t go to a family member!” By rule, a family member can’t win, so to avoid “fowl” play, Bob quickly called for Duck No. 2.

Sylvia says Bob’s greatest asset was his gift of convincing others to come on board — from major corporate sponsors to individual donors.

“He could talk people into anything,” she says. “Anything. Bob was a force to be reckoned with, in a very unassuming, quiet way. And he worked on this nonstop, year-round.

“Freestore [Foodbank] is a great organization, and there’s a huge need out there.”

That’s why Sylvia encourages you to buy a duck or three for this year’s event. To everyone that buys a duck, she wishes you the best of luck. Because every duck that is purchased helps our community fight hunger.

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