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Kirk Giovanini's fish wins The Great Fish Race on Independence Day, netting him the $1,000 grand prize

HOLLY SCHOLZ - Eric Clark and Trevit Law dumped a trash can full of rubber fish into Ochoco Creek Park Tuesday afternoon to begin The Great Fish Race.

Although three lucky people won big prizes, local youth are the real winners of The Great Fish Race, which happened Tuesday afternoon at the conclusion of the Fourth of July festivities at Ochoco Creek Park.

The collaborative fundraising project benefits four Crook County nonprofit organizations that serve local children.

"It is important because it helps the four youth programs and brings an awareness to youth programs in Prineville and Crook County," said Lori Law, the fiscal manager at Lutheran Community Services, who helped put on the race.

Community members were invited to cast a line for youth by purchasing $5 fish tickets for The Great Fish Race to benefit CASA of Central Oregon-Crook County, Crook County Kids Club, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, and The Landing Youth and Tutoring Center.

The rubber fish had numbers that coordinated to the tickets, which were sold around town through July 4. The fish were dumped into Ochoco Creek at 4 p.m. near the foot bridge at Ochoco Creek Park and raced downstream, ending at the Elm Street bridge, where the first three that bumped into the net were the winners.

Kirk Giovanini's fish hit the net first, and he won $1,000.

"He said, 'Is this a joke or is this for real?'" Law laughed. "He was so excited. He said it made their night."

Earl Hayton's fish came in second, and he won a lime green kayak with car package, key fob, waterproof box, paddle and life vest.

The third fish belonged to Andrea Warren. She won an overnight resort package and two rounds of golf donated by Brasada Ranch.

The funds will be split between four local organizations.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Central Oregon-Crook County will be able to recruit and train advocates because of these contributions.

Crook County Kids Club will be able to provide scholarships for more than five members who would not have been able to attend the program.

Lutheran Community Services will provide counseling services and skills training, helping children and their parents build a better life for themselves.

The Landing will use the money to help fulfill its mission to bless youth, their families and community by providing a safe and warm place where students can receive free homework help, enjoy a free meal and take part in free, healthy activities.

Law said between the sponsors and ticket sales, the fundraiser brought in $6,300 for the four agencies. They sold 645 of the $5 tickets.

"We didn't quite meet our goal. We had 1,500 tickets," Law said, noting that they would have liked to have sold all the tickets, which would have brought in $7,500.

However, she was grateful for the sponsors, the businesses who donated the prizes, and for the community support.

"The continued support from our community helps sustain these efforts in Crook County to serve local children in need," Law said.

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