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Jumpers take a dip

Penguin Plunge raises $65,704 for mammogram equipment at YVMC

Several Penguin Plunge teams came armed with sweet dance moves Saturday at the Catamount Ranch & Club. The Land Title Guarantee Co. team rocked out to - you guessed it - the Village People. Participants were, from left: Bruce Carta, Lisa Kanov, Jed Gibson, Melissa Gibson, Stan Urban and Jean Urban. The team won the best costume award.
Zach Fridell

— Wigs, hats and props went soaring Saturday as Penguin Plunge teams leapt into water some joker labeled “a balmy 32 degrees.”

The penguins bobbed up immediately, gasping and wearing expressions of abject horror. But those changed to grins as plungers powered through the Catamount Ranch & Club pool to the waiting hot tub. The sixth annual Penguin Plunge had a record turnout, with 21 teams and 176 jumpers, organizer Traci Day-Fenton said.

It was quite an increase from last year, she said.



“To go from 99 jumpers to 170-plus, to go from 13 teams to having 20-plus is just amazing,” Day-Fenton said.

The fundraiser supports the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley, an organization that helps raise money for Yampa Valley Medical Center. This year’s plunge raised $65,704 for digital mammography equipment for the diagnostic imaging department.



Diane Bowers jumped with the Hot Flashes, a team that included dozens of men (in drag) and women from YVMC. She hopped out of the hot tub in her red sequined dress after the event. The plunge is refreshing, she said.

“It felt hot, hot, hot,” Bowers said with a shimmy and a smile.

She’s been a Hot Flash for years.

“I do it to cool off,” Bowers said. “When you’re hot flashing, you gotta cool off. I cool off once a year.”

At least two teams were jumping to honor people they’ve lost. Diane Moore, executive director of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, jumped with a group wearing paper hearts around their necks.

“We love Kit” was printed on the hearts in red glitter. The eight-person team called itself Kit Rice, Queen of Heart and Soul, and her Soul Sisters. Rice was Steamboat Springs’ sports coordinator and a volunteer for Advocates. She died last fall.

“This is a way to honor Kit and raise money for the hospital,” Moore said.

Laurel Linner jumped holding the hand of her 5-year-old daughter, Abigail. Linner’s husband, Dave Linner, helped start Penguin Plunge. He died in an air ambulance crash in January 2005.

Laurel Linner’s team, Dave’s Dippers, jumped first, wearing stars covered in foil. They read “big” and had dippers taped beneath. Abigail’s star read “little” with a smaller ladle attached below. She popped in wearing a wet suit and then was helped up the stairs by the diver who remains in the pool throughout the plunge.

It felt “cold,” she said from her mother’s side in the hot tub.

Kevin Chapman jumped with other YVMC workers as the Bosom Buddies. Chapman’s boss encouraged him to participate.

Digital mammography equipment “won’t really positively affect me,” Chapman said. “But I think it’s good for the community and good for the hospital.”

Overall, the day was a success, Day-Fenton said.

“Everyone just had a blast,” she said. More than 30 volunteers help run the plunge, and sponsors donated prizes and money. Brian Harvey, of KVCR, ran the music and acted as master of ceremonies.

The event topped the fundraising goal, which was set at $60,500. The foundation still will accept donations, Day-Fenton said. The mammography equipment costs $500,000.

“I’m just very thankful that so many people came out in these times,” she said. “It’s tough, and we get it.”

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com


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