12th annual Penguin Plunge makes a splash Saturday
Steamboat Springs — On Saturday, about 90 people will plunge into a pool of ice.
For weeks these brave souls have raised money to participate in the 12th annual Penguin Plunge — a local fundraiser that will benefit the Yampa Valley Medical Center’s new Cancer Care Center.
The event begins at noon at the Catamount Lake House pool, and spectators are welcome and encouraged to watch not only the climatic plunge but also to witness participants perform, dressed in costume.
“I think they are brave and fearless for doing this,” said Ellen Campbell, development associate for the Yampa Valley Healthcare Foundation. “It’s amazing that people can jump into 30-degree water.”
There are two kinds off people who will be participating in the fundraiser — chickens and penguins.
Chickens are those who commit to raising $150 and can be part of a team but opt out of jumping into the pool. Penguins are those who commit to raising $150 to jump into the icy water. Each of the teams were faced with the challenge to raise a minimum of $150 per person by March 13.
“I go between different fundraisers every year, and this one in particular is a great cause because of the team-building event of jumping into the water with your buddies and the anticipation that comes with that,” said Steph Traylor, co-owner of Ski Butlers and a member of one of the participating teams.
The beneficiary of this year’s Penguin Plunge is YVMC’s new Cancer Care Center. The campaign to raise $1.5 million for the center was announced last year.
According to Campbell, the care center will provide a more comfortable and seamless experience for cancer patients while centralizing care. The project also will address other critical needs by increasing the number of infusion chairs and doubling the number of exam and private rooms.
“I’ve had a long history with the hospital and know where they have been and where they are going,” said Pegi Simmerman, who has been a volunteer and part of the Penguin Plunge every year. “It’s just a really good cause because I know where the money is going, and it’s a great organization.”
When the plunge first began, Simmerman remembers there were no costumes or performances, but since then, she has seen the event grow.
In addition to the fundraising component of the event, five awards will be given out to those who are recognized as the top team fundraiser, top individual fundraiser, best theme, best performance and team spirit.
“I love seeing the camaraderie and having a great time with your friends, and even if you are not on the same team as someone, it really is a community event as a whole,” Traylor said.
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As the snow melting off the peaks surrounding Steamboat Springs feeds the Yampa River, rafters, canoeists, kayakers and paddle boarders are trying to make the most of it.