Penguin Plunge plans kick-off party, announces ‘chicken coop’ |

Penguin Plunge plans kick-off party, announces ‘chicken coop’

Mike Lawrence

Anna West jumps into the frigid waters of the Catamount Ranch and Club pool during Penguin Plunge in 2010.

— The Penguin Plunge isn't just for penguins anymore.

This year, for the first time, the annual fundraiser for Yampa Valley Medical Center will provide an outlet for those who, for whatever reason, might not want to experience the shocking pleasure of jumping into 33-degree water on a mid-March morning. Sandy St. Clair, executive director of the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley, said the March 19 Penguin Plunge into the Catamount Ranch and Club pool will include a poolside "chicken coop" for participants who choose to not freeze their giblets.

Those participants will include St. Clair.

"I'm just a chicken by nature," St. Clair said with a laugh Tues­day.

The eighth annual Penguin Plunge will help start a three-year fundraising effort for YVMC's cancer care services. Funds raised will benefit new patient navigation software and programs, part of an effort to earn accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

This year's Penguin Plunge is called Freezin' for a Reason and is presented by Alpine Bank. Regi­­­stration is under way, with information and forms available at

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Along with the chicken coop and chicken costumes, also new this year is a kick-off party at 5:30 p.m. March 3 at Sweetwater Grill. The party will feature food, drinks, commemorative glasses, a prize drawing for a flat-screen TV and a celebration of fundraising efforts.

Each participant in the plunge is required to raise $125 in pledge commitments. Pledges can be secured up to March 19, but those who complete their commitment by March 3 will be eligible to receive prizes on the day of the plunge.

The 2010 Penguin Plunge raised just more than $83,000, up from $65,700 raised at the event in 2009. The 2010 funds helped the hospital buy a CT scanner for its diagnostic imaging department.

Penguin Plunge has raised more than $350,000 for YVMC during the past seven years.

The event is known for teams of plungers in colorful, creative costumes jumping into frigid water before warming up in a hot tub amid a festive atmosphere. Volunteers chain saw through ice to open up the pool.

The Healthcare Foundation supports, promotes and raises money for Yampa Valley Medical Center.

St. Clair credited the plunge's renewed energy this year, and new features such as the chicken coop and kick-off party, largely to the Healthcare Foundation's Jackie Brown.

Brown is out of town this week and could not be reached for comment, but St. Clair had plenty of praise.

"I can't say enough nice things about this woman," St. Clair said. "This is an eight-year tradition, but Jackie has taken it to the next step and pumped some new life into the event."

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail

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