Monday Medical: Duckies to race for kids and families

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Two generations of children have cheered on the Yampa River Rubber Ducky Race, which began in 1988. On Saturday, this fun, family-friendly fundraiser will continue to celebrate families, kids and the young at heart with a new focus and flair.

Last year, the Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary notched a quarter-century of running this race.

“Our Auxiliary’s dedicated and tireless volunteers established and nurtured this event for the past 25 years,” YVMC Volunteer Services Coordinator Mindy Fontaine said. “In officially retiring from the race, they have encouraged the hospital to continue this community tradition and take a new direction.”

Fontaine, who is this year’s race coordinator, has enlisted help from past volunteers as well as parents and teachers at GrandKids Child Care Center. GrandKids will be one beneficiary of the race.

GrandKids plans to expand its successful intergenerational program, which brings the children in close contact with senior citizens.

Proceeds also will benefit pediatric services, which include inpatient care in the hospital and outpatient Pediatric Therapy Services at the “Little House” on the YVMC campus.

“We would love to provide age-appropriate activity kits to welcome children when they are admitted to the hospital,” Director of Inpatient Services Tracey Fortson said. “And we also hope the race can fund some replacement equipment to treat newborn babies in our Special Care Nursery.”

Speech-language therapist Sally Hertzog said the therapy program, which provides one-on-one therapy as well as small-group sessions, would like to have additional educational and assessment tools.

“Our physical, occupational and speech-language therapies help children who have some type of disability or developmental delay,” she explained.

“We work with children who have autism and other medical conditions, physical movement issues, simple articulation disorders and significant communication problems.”

The connection to children was obvious in the Rubber Ducky Race 4th of July parade float, which was brimming with youngsters, and it will be much in evidence again at the finish line.

A good-sized crowd always has gathered at the park across from the Depot Art Center to see if their duckies have been lucky. Now there will be more to do than simply watch the numbered ducks as they bob toward the finish line.

“We’re really excited about the new activities we have planned in Lincoln Park,” Fontaine said. “In addition to a bouncy house and face-painting, we’ll have food and beverage vendors and a live performance by the Brian Smith Band.”

Other new aspects of the 2013 race are the availability of online ticket sales – at www.yvmc.org/rubberducky - and the prizes.

“In the past, our volunteers solicited prizes from local merchants,” Fontaine said. “Our local business community has supported the hospital so generously for so many years, and we are very grateful for that. This year, we decided to take a new direction by providing all cash prizes.”

Twenty-five ticket holders will receive a share of $5,000, with the top prize being $1,000 for the “owner” of the duck that crosses the finish line first.

Race volunteers are selling tickets at City Market every day this week. On Saturday morning, the sale of any remaining tickets will begin at 9 a.m. at Fifth and Yampa streets. At 11 a.m. sharp, an expected 2,500 duckies will cascade into the river.

And the kids will be cheering.

Christine McKelvie is a writer/editor at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at christine.mckelvie@yvmc.org.

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