Steamboat’s Penguin Plunge nears $1M donation milestone |

Steamboat’s Penguin Plunge nears $1M donation milestone

Robert Flake, from team De-Groovy, leads the way into the pool during a past Penguin Plunge. This year's fundraiser will take place at noon March 24 at Catamount Lakehouse.
Courtesy Photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With the million-dollar mark within reach this year, there still is plenty of time to get involved with the annual Penguin Plunge before the event makes a splash March 24.

“I have jumped — it’s cold, but you get out of the water and right into a hot tub,” said Lisa Joens, donor relations coordinator with the UCHeath Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation, who has been helping to coordinate the Penguin Plunge for the past three years. “There are some that jump and never do it again, and there are several that come back repeatedly, every year.”

The event has been a rite of spring passage for the past 14 years. In that time, the Penguin Plunge has raised $956,352 for Yampa Valley Medical Center, and organizers hope total donations will reach $1 million this year.

Each individual must raise $150, but hopefully more, for the right to jump into the icy waters of the Catamount Lakehouse outside pool. Ice and snow is cleared from the pool by volunteers, but that doesn’t warm the water.

“It’s not heated, so we have to chip the ice away a couple of days before and then the day of,” Joens said. “If it got cold the night before, we usually still have to clear a path down the middle of the pool.” 

Participants come dressed in costumes and prepared to impress a panel of judges with a short skit before jumping into the water.

“We have several teams already signed up,” Joens said. “The bar gets raised every year. It first started with people just jumping into the ice cold water, and then Land Title (Guarantee Company) kind of raised that bar and brought it up to the level of wearing costumes, playing music and performing a short skit before jumping into the water. There are lots of creative ideas, lots of fun music, and it’s just a lot of fun.”

Judges score each team and award prizes for best choreography, best theme and best team spirit.  There are also awards for the team and the individual who raises the most money.

“We do have some teams already signed up already raising money,” Joens said. “But it’s never too late to sign up — you can sign up until the day before, which is March 23.”

Those interested in taking the plunge can go to for more information.

Money raised at the Penguin Plunge will benefit emergency and trauma service at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. Funds from the 2016 event helped finance construction of two safe rooms in the emergency department.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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