Northwest Colorado Health: Rubber Ducky fundraiser supports end-of-life care |

Northwest Colorado Health: Rubber Ducky fundraiser supports end-of-life care

Sharon Stoddard didn’t think she needed hospice. Her mother, Nina, had been living with her for several years when Nina’s health began to decline. Stoddard knew her mother was nearing end-of-life and was prepared to care for her on her own. Then, a friend who had lost a loved one convinced her to reconsider.

“He said it would make the process easier and help prepare me for all aspects of the dying process, especially at the end,” she said.

In the weeks leading up to her mother’s death, the hospice team at Northwest Colorado Health helped Stoddard care for her and were available at all hours to answer questions and help her manage medical issues. Without this support, Nina might have had to be hospitalized, which would have stressed her health and detracted from their quality time together.

“Hospice knows what to do,” Stoddard said. “They come and help you take care of things that you don’t want to have to think about.”

Northwest Colorado Health provides hospice care and support to all patients who need it, regardless of their ability to pay. Donations and proceeds from the upcoming Rubber Ducky Race on Sept. 9 help make this possible.

Hospice is available to patients with a life prognosis of six months or less. Hospice staff focuses on maintaining or improving a patient’s quality of life, easing pain and addressing physical, emotional and spiritual needs that can accompany a terminal illness.

Costs of hospice care often exceed insurance reimbursement, and some patients may not have insurance. The Rubber Ducky Race is a fun and affordable opportunity for community members to support hospice and the patients and families who need these services.

Tickets for the race are $10. It begins at 11 a.m. at the Fifth Street Bridge, where Steamboat Springs firefighters will dump the duckies into the Yampa River. The race ends at West Lincoln Park. Ticket holders of the winning ducks will receive a total of $3,000 in cash prizes. The grand prize is $1,000, and you need not be present to win.

Last year, hospice cared for 88 terminally ill patients, about 42 percent of deaths, in Routt and Moffat counties. Northwest Colorado Health, a nonprofit organization, has provided hospice in the two counties for more than 20 years and in Grand County since 2015.

In addition to nurses and certified nursing assistants, hospice teams include physical therapists, occupational therapists, a medical social worker and bereavement and spiritual care coordinator. Grief support is available to families for a year after their loved one’s death.

“They are all wonderful people. There wasn’t anyone who was here that wasn’t terrific,” Stoddard said.

The day her mother passed away was peaceful. Hospice nurses were there to provide whatever support was needed but also gave Stoddard and her husband time, space and calmness to grieve.

“It’s end-of-life, but end-of-life can be beautiful,” she said. “Hospice helps with that because it preserves the dignity of the patient and loved ones. Honestly, I can’t imagine not having hospice.”

Tickets for the Rubber Ducky Race are available online at or at Northwest Colorado Health, Yampa Valley Bank and the Steamboat Springs Chamber. Tickets also will be available the day of the race at the Fifth Street Bridge. Volunteers are needed to help retrieve duckies from the river and help with other aspects of the event. For more information, call Kyleigh Lawler at 970-871-7609.

Tamera Manzanares is marketing coordinator for Northwest Colorado Health. She can be reached at 970-871-7642 or

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