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Oma’s Heart group to hold first Great River Duck Race

By Staff | Sep 15, 2012

Look for Santa to release 1,000 multi-colored rubber duckies into the Lazy River at Sun Splash Family Waterpark today, Saturday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m.

It is very apropos – Mr. Claus officiating the duck race. The event will benefit Oma’s Heart, Inc. a non-profit organization based in Cape Coral, with the goal of providing Christmas gifts to financially struggling families.

This is the inaugural Great River Duck Race for the charity, with great prizes for the owners of the winning racing ducks. The ducks will move toward the finish line and prizes will be distributed for first, second and third duck in,” said Audrey McFalls, founder/executive director of Oma’s Heart, Inc. “We will even have a prize for the last duck. Prizes include four Disney Park Hopper tickets, four Lego Land Tickets and a three-day, two-night stay at The Resort at Marina Village. The last duck in will receive $50.”

Ducks will be available to purchase up until the race. Cost is $5 per duck, six for $25, 12 for $50 and 25 for $100.

“We’ve also had some other great donations,” said McFalls. “Chick-fil-A is donating free chicken for a year, and their mascot, the cow, will be there, and they will be giving out coupons.”

Contributing to the charity is particularly important this year, she said. Besides helping many more families in Cape Coral, the organization is expanding this year to include North Fort Myers as well, she said.

“Last year we were able to provide Christmas for 500 local Cape families, over 800 children. Then we got calls from teachers and others in North Fort Myers, asking for help for their local children.”

How the organization works is to sign-up those in need and give them vouchers, where they can “shop” for holiday gifts – parents and guardians for the children, the children for their parents.

“No one can come in directly and shop, they have to go to voucher locations to sign up, with some verification required. Watch our website and newspapers starting Oct. 1 for all the information and specifics.”

This year the organization chose one main shopping spot as the Grace Community Center on Hancock Bridge Parkway.

“It is right on the border of Cape Coral and North Fort Myers,” she said. There also will be Cape Coral locations, including Vineyard Community Church of Cape Coral and First Assembly West Church.

“Last year we opened a toy store for one day, scheduling 65 families to shop every two hours for 12 hours. With toys still being donated, we were also able to provide gifts for the Lee County Head Start program, a local organization that provides services to Parents with Down’s Syndrome children, churches, military families and a homeless community. In 2012, we will add an additional shopping day and expand our area to include North Fort Myers.”

She and other board members are working with the North Fort Myers Fraternal Order of the Orioles Nest 301 to expand to that area. Member Kenny “Bones” Cox said he is very excited about the added support to North Fort Myers families and children.

“It’s fantastic,” he said, and this summer he and other club members supported a poker run to help kick off donations to Oma’s Heart.

“We want to thank Sun Splash General Manager Sandie Greinier for allowing people to come to the race with no admission charge, and for donating the ducks for the day,” she said.

After being started in her living room only a few short years ago, the organization now has 10 board members and roughly 40 volunteers who have worked very hard to make it successful.

McFalls explained how the organization got its name.

“It was very simple to come up with this name. Oma refers to my mother, which is Dutch for grandmother. My mother dedicated her life to children, so when Oma’s Heart was established, the name was perfect.”

Donations and volunteers are always welcome, she added.

“You can always to our website omasheart.org, or call or email me for more information.”

Her number is 989-6718 and email is audrey@omasheart.org.

“I’m really encouraging people to come out and support our event, and watch our website for more details on the vouchers.”