By Deb Everts

People who love winter fun and want to help with a worthy cause come to Holiday Valley each February to carry on the “Penguin Paddle” tradition that benefits the resort’s Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program. 

This year’s event takes place Saturday, Feb. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Yodler slope. Registration for the Paddle is $1 and is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the base of Yodeler. The slide begins at 1 p.m.

The highlight of the day is the slide where competitors of all ages don garbage bags and helmets, then slip down the slope of Yodler on their bellies, “penguin-style.” Heats are divided into age groups from age 4 to adult. Another option is a mixed doubles race where participants take to the slope in a two-person bag.

Hundreds of participants and spectators enjoy a fun-filled day with lots of laughs, a silent auction, raffles, great food and beverages. Raffle tickets and Penguin Paddle buttons will be on sale all day at Yodeler. Winners will be announced at the end of the races.

Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20. They can be purchased from any LASP instructor or on the day of the event at Yodeler until the drawing at 3 p.m. Winners need not be present to win.

The first place winner will receive a season’s pass from Holiday Valley Resort; second place winner, a $500 Travel Voucher from Southwest Airlines; and third place, a pair of High Performance Skis from The City Garage Ski Shop. New this year is a chance to win the “Vacation Raffle” for a five-night stay at the all-inclusive Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico.  

Schedule of events:

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Registration for Penguin Paddle at base of Yodeler, $1 donation

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Silent Auction in tent at base of Yodeler 

11 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Lunch in lunch tent, $5 donation

12:30-12:45 p.m.: Lineup for Paddle

1 p.m.: Penguin Paddle begins, helmets required

The Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program (LASP) serves 200 and 250 disabled clients each season offering ski lessons and equipment to people with all disabilities, both physical and cognitive.

LASP Program Director William Bredenberg said this year is the Lounsbury program’s 31st anniversary. He said the program is totally funded through giving and, by far, the largest part of that is their one-day fundraiser, the “Penguin Paddle.”

According to Bredenberg, proceeds from the event help fund the purchase of new adaptive ski equipment, scholarships, veterans’ ski days, and volunteer training and certification.

“Last year, we purchased a sit ski for people not able to stand for almost $7,000. This year, we purchased a new monoski for $7,000, and new uniform jackets,” he said. “Almost 70 percent of our volunteer instructors are certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America. This takes a lot of training and dedication from our staff. The funds for this also come from the Paddle.”

Bredenberg said there are some people in the community that can’t afford the cost of a lesson. LASP’s scholarship program ensures no one will get turned away because of finances.

“We have a lot of needs and, thanks to the wonderful people in the community, we are able to get many people out on snow and put smiles on lots of faces,” he said.

Holiday Valley Resort is located at 6557 Holiday Valley Road. To find out more, call (716) 699-2345 or visit online at holidayvalley.com and lounsburyadaptive.org.