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Lucky ducks provide funding for Northwest Colorado Health hospice

Lisa Ruff/For Steamboat Today
The annual Rubber Ducky Race fundraiser, hosted by Northwest Colorado Health, will take place along the Yampa River Sept. 10 in Steamboat Springs.
Courtesy Photo

If you go:

What: Rubber Ducky Race for Hospice

When: 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10

Where: Fifth Street Bridge in downtown Steamboat Springs

Tickets for the chance to win a $1,500 grand prize can be purchased at northwestcolorado... or at the start of the race. All proceeds benefit Northwest Colorado Health hospice.

— Steamboat residents are accustomed to seeing wader-clad fishermen wrangling trout out of the Yampa River from Fifth Street bridge all the way to West Lincoln Park, but for one day each year, those strolling along the Core Trail will see wader-clad volunteers coaxing a different species of aquatic fowl down that same stretch of river — rubber ducks.

Northwest Colorado Health will host the annual Rubber Ducky Race for Hospice on Saturday, Sept. 10 in downtown Steamboat Springs. The ducks begin their trek at 11 a.m. atop the Fifth Street bridge, as they are ceremoniously dropped from several garbage cans into the river by local firefighters, who relish the role of duck dumping, according to local firefighter and EMT Troy Kuhl.

“We like to help the community wherever we can,” added Kuhl, who also serves as the fire department’s public education coordinator.

Cheered along by enthusiastic supporters, last year 1,300 bobbing yellow bodies slipped their way through eddies and under willows as they made their way to the finish line where this year, one lucky duck will earn the grand prize of $1,500. Ticket holders of the first 25 ducks will win a total of $5,000 in cash prizes.

Kuhl said part of being a firefighter involves building community, and the Rubber Ducky race provides an excellent opportunity for all community members to come together to support those in need of hospice services.  

Last year, Amie Simmons and her family posed once such opportunity.

Simmons’s father, Wayne Bay, spent 10 months at the Rollingstone Respite House, where Simmons said the staff “became like family to us.”  

The Respite House “was the most special gift for him and for my family,” Simmons said. “It was a place that made his last days pleasant and comforting.”  

The Rollingstone Respite House, located at 1500 Pine Grove Road in Steamboat Springs, provides comfortable rooms and a warm setting for hospice patients who are not able to live their final days in their own homes.

Simmons said a kitchen, fireplace, dining room and living room area were available to her family while visiting her father.

“It felt just like home,” she said.

Hospice also cares for patients in their homes and long-term living facilities throughout Northwest Colorado.  

Last year, the Rubber Ducky Race raised $45,000 for hospice, according to Northwest Colorado Health marketing coordinator Tamera Manzanares.

“This is our biggest fundraiser for the program and helps cover hospice expenses that are not paid for by a patient’s insurance,” Manzanares said. “We provide hospice care and support to all patients and families who need us.”

Manzanares stressed the importance of hospice in “providing family support—doing errands, making meals — so that the families have time to spend with their loved ones.”  

This is the second year Northwest Colorado Health, previously known as the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is hosting the event.

“We do have a new name,” Manzanares said, “but it’s important for people to know that it is still a fundraiser for hospice.”

Tickets for the race, which sell for $10, can be purchased online through Sept. 9 at northwestcoloradohealth.org. On the day of the race, tickets can be purchased at the Fifth Street Bridge up to the very moment of the drop. Tickets are also available at the Northwest Colorado Health offices, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101, and at Yampa Valley Bank on South Lincoln Avenue.

Ticket holders need not be present when their duck crosses the finish line.


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