It's that time of year again when a parade of yellow duckies bob their way down the Yampa River.
Children and adults alike will use hockey sticks and ski poles to prod their numbered duckies toward the finish line in an effort to win a season ski pass and other prizes in the 18th annual Rubber Ducky Race. The event is Saturday.
For the second year, the Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary, which organizes the event, is pledging all proceeds to the hospital's new Infusion/Chemotherapy Center.
The cost to "adopt" a ducky is $10. Special "take home" duckies -- which won't be used in the race -- are available for $5.
The race starts at the Fifth Street bridge and will end just past the 13th Street Bridge, where volunteers wait to net the lucky winners.
Local businesses have donated more than 60 prizes, including memberships to the Steamboat Ski Touring Center, the Steamboat Health and Recreation Center and Curves For Women. There also will be gift certificates, free tennis and golf lessons and spa packages.
The auxiliary hopes to beat last year's Rubber Ducky record of more than $23,000, though auxiliary members understand other needs also are pulling at residents.
"I try to stress to everybody that this year, with everything happening in Louisiana and areas hit by the hurricane, we're happy to get whatever people can give," said Kathy Ulmer, who is helping organize the race.
The auxiliary and Rubber Ducky Races have been key in replacing the old infusion/chemotherapy area, a cramped and uncomfortable room off the hospital emergency room.
In 2003, the auxiliary used extra funds to purchase new treatment chairs and members decided to dedicate funds from two Rubber Ducky Races for a new center.
Those funds, donations and grants helped YVMC open the new center in March in the Medical Center Office Building on the hospital campus.
The new Infusion/Chemo--therapy Center is almost four times the size of the old center, accommodating more than 90 visits a month. The center provides a soothing, non-institutional atmosphere for cancer patients as well as people with chronic Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia and other conditions.
The auxiliary plans to use money from Saturday's Rubber Ducky Race to purchase specialty furniture, audio/visual equipment and artwork for the center, said YVMC spokeswoman Mindy Fontaine, who is helping organize volunteers for the race.