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Rubber Ducky Race benefits YVMC Auxiliary

Autumn Phillips

At 10 a.m. Saturday, hundreds of yellow rubber duckies will be dropped into the Yampa River from the Fifth Street Bridge. All the ducks are numbered, with each number corresponding to a ticket holder. Tickets to adopt a duck are $10.

Every year, the winner of the race gets a free season pass, and every year, the number of ducks grows.

It’s a good sign for Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Auxiliary. The Rubber Ducky Race is its primary fund-raiser.

This year, the money raised has been set aside to upgrade the facilities for people having chemotherapy and infusion, Auxiliary President-elect Jean Coen said.

“When they first started offering (chemotherapy) in Steamboat, they started with 20 people,” Coen said. “Now they have more than 100. We want to enlarge the area and make it a more comfortable, healing environment.”

When Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary started in 1946, it was a volunteer organization of doctors’ wives. It was a social organization as much as it was a way for women to lend a helping hand.

A similar tradition continues today.

Many of the volunteers at Yampa Valley Medical Center are retired women who dedicate their free time to fund raising for the hospital and running the many blood drives.

As of September, the auxiliary had 101 members, up from 92 in 2003.

“In this state, most hospital’s auxiliaries are dwindling,” Coen said. “People are not supporting them. But our numbers are increasing, and people are looking to us. People in Steamboat are so good about wanting to volunteer, and this is one of the places they can really accomplish something.”

The most popular programs for volunteers at the hospital are the Day Surgery Support and Kiddie Kuddlers.

In the Kiddie Kuddlers program, volunteers’ biggest responsibility simply is snuggling with babies.

The hospital’s GrandKids Child Care Center serves 10 infants but only has two teachers. The duties can become overwhelming. Volunteers have a choice of two, two-hour shifts a day.

Every volunteer must go through an orientation, a health screening, a criminal background check and training in their chosen department.

The auxiliary has one orientation a month.

Another volunteer program runs only in winter. Help at Hand is a job for the nurturer. Volunteers work in the emergency room during ski season.

Help at Hand volunteers give special Steamboat bears to the children.

The auxiliary also organizes the annual 9 Health Fair that takes place in September.

To join the auxiliary, those interested in volunteering need to fill out an application, which is available at the Yampa Valley Medical Center or by calling Heather Rose at 870-1146.

— To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com


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