PenguinPaddleby Sue Whistler

It’s called the Penguin Paddle and it’s one of the most anticipated events of the ski season and the major source of funding for the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program (LASP). This year the event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 22 and it’s something that visitors to Holiday Valley won’t want to miss!

The annual Penguin Paddle is an all-day event that is held on the slopeside of the Yodeler Lodge in cooperation with Holiday Valley Ski Resort. And they don’t call it the Penguin Paddle for nothing!

Every February, hundreds of Penguin Paddlers of all ages flock to Holiday Valley for the Penguin Paddle Races. These slippery sliders throw caution and dignity to the wind and don helmets and large black garbage bags to “make like penguins” and slide down the lower part of the Yodeler ski slope on their bellies to support the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program.

LASP is an all-volunteer program that offers lessons to persons with virtually all disabilities, both physical and cognitive. The operative word in this program is “adaptive.” If someone wants to ski, the enthusiastic Lounsbury instructors will find a way to get them out on the slopes. The focus is always on what a student can do, not on what they can’t.

A single lesson usually involves two instructors and sometimes three, depending on the severity of the student’s disability and the type of adaptive ski equipment required. Results vary but many students become skiers and virtually all of them experience a sense of achievement, excitement and freedom that helps them to gain new confidence to tackle other activities.

Most of the students who participate in LASP require specially designed adaptive equipment, which is very expensive. The proceeds from Penguin Paddle help to purchase and maintain this equipment and to fund ongoing adaptive training programs for the 50 volunteer instructors.

In addition to the Penguin Paddle Races, the day’s festivities include a buffet cookout lunch, silent auction, and a raffle with some really incredible items and prizes that include:

A Holiday Valley season pass for the 2014/2015 season

4 passes to the PGA Seniors Championship in Pittsburg in June 2014, donated by the PGA through Tom and Tracey Reading. Among the competitors are golfing greats Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie. This package also includes golf lessons and several promotional golf items.

A pair of high-performance skis

A $500 travel voucher

A football signed by Thurman Thomas

Gift cards from many of Ellicottville’s fine local restaurants and businesses

Ski and outdoor gear

Wine baskets

Many decorative and household items and goodies

Mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb. 22 and make plans to join the fun and support a wonderful program!