The "SmartWool Vikings" participate in the 2008 Penguin Plunge, an event presented by the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley to benefit Yampa Valley Medical Center. Participants are asked to raise a minimum of $100 to jump into an icy pool at Catamount Ranch & Club. Team registration for this year's event - scheduled for noon March 28 - is due March 16.

Courtesy Photo

The "SmartWool Vikings" participate in the 2008 Penguin Plunge, an event presented by the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley to benefit Yampa Valley Medical Center. Participants are asked to raise a minimum of $100 to jump into an icy pool at Catamount Ranch & Club. Team registration for this year's event - scheduled for noon March 28 - is due March 16.

Teams need to take plunge for fundraiser

Registration for Healthcare Foundation fundraiser ends March 16

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To take the plunge

The sixth annual Penguin Plunge is at noon March 28 at Catamount Ranch & Club. Team members are asked to raise at least $100 each to take the plunge into an icy cold pool. Proceeds go toward the purchase of digital mammography equipment for the Diagnostic Imaging Department at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

To register a team or to become a sponsor for this year's Penguin Plunge, call Traci Day-Fenton at the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley at 871-2515. Teams and sponsors must be registered by March 16.

— When Traci Day-Fenton looks back at videotape of the 2008 Penguin Plunge, she keeps count of how long participants stay in the icy cold pool at Catamount Ranch & Club.

"Literally, I think the longest someone was in the water was 6 seconds. You've never seen somebody move so fast," Day-Fenton said, describing the icy climax of an event hosted by the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley to raise money for equipment at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

"I think so much of what this event is for the community is just people getting out and having a great time, and jumping in some really cold water for a really great cause," said Day-Fenton, associate vice president of development for the Healthcare Foundation.

For the past five years, crews at Lake Catamount have spent the week leading up to Penguin Plunge snowblowing the surface of a pool and using chainsaws to cut into a layer of ice that can be as much as 3 feet thick.

In 2008, 14 "waves" of fundraisers jumped into a 31-degree pool. With a minimum fundraising requirement of $100 per participant, the event raised $75,000 to purchase monitoring equipment that now is being used in the emergency room at YVMC, Day-Fenton said.

Proceeds from this year's plunge will go toward the purchase of digital mammography equipment for the Diagnostic Imaging Department at YVMC. The imaging method offers better results than film mammography for women younger than 50 years old and emits less radiation than film tests, according to a release to event sponsors from the Healthcare Foundation. Images also can be stored and shared more easily.

"People are having to travel for that right now, and the hope is that with having it here, people will get things done sooner rather than wait," Day-Fenton said. YVMC provides film mammography tests and conducted 2,350 mammograms in 2007, according to the hospital's Web site.

So far seven teams have registered for the 2009 Penguin Plunge, with team names such as "The Hot Flashes" and "The YVMC Village People." Themed costumes play a large part in the atmosphere of the event, and some teams are reluctant to give away their plan, Day-Fenton said. The event usually attracts about 100 jumpers, she said.

The Healthcare Foundation needs team and sponsor registrations by March 16. The title sponsor for this year's event is Alpine Bank; other sponsor positions are open, Day-Fenton said. Participants younger than 18 need parental permission to jump. Anyone interested can pick up a participant packet a the Healthcare Foundation office at 940 Central Park Drive or may e-mail Day-Fenton at traci.day-fenton@yvmc.org.

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