Craig Rubber Ducky Race supports end-of-life care

By Tamera Manzanares

Sharon Stoddard didn’t think she needed hospice. Her mother Nina, had been living with her for several years when Nina’s health began to decline. Stoddard knew her mother was nearing end-of-life and was prepared to care for her on her own. Then a friend who had lost a loved one convinced her to reconsider. “He said it would make the process easier and help prepare me for all aspects of the dying process, especially at the end,” she said.

In the weeks leading up to her mother’s death, the hospice team at Northwest Colorado Health helped Stoddard care for her and were available at all hours to answer questions and help her manage medical issues. Without this support, Nina may have had to be hospitalized, which would have stressed her health and taken away from their quality time together. “Hospice knows what to do,” Stoddard said. “They come and help you take care of things that you don’t want to have to think about.”

Northwest Colorado Health provides hospice care and support to all patients who need it, regardless of their ability to pay. Donations and proceeds from the upcoming Rubber Ducky Race on Aug. 26 help make this possible.

Hospice is available to patients with a life prognosis of six months or less. Hospice staff focus on maintaining or improving a patient’s quality of life, easing pain and addressing physical, emotional and spiritual needs that can accompany a terminal illness. Costs of hospice care often exceed insurance reimbursement. Some patients may not have insurance. The Rubber Ducky Race is a fun and affordable opportunity for community members to support hospice and the patients and families who need these services.

Tickets for the race are $10. It starts at 11 a.m. at the Ranney Street Bridge, where Craig firefighters will dump the duckies into the Yampa River. Ticket holders of the first 10 ducks that cross the finish line at Loudy Simpson Park receive cash prizes totaling $1,000. The grand prize is $500. The event includes a celebration in the park. Boys and Girls Club, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition and Connections 4 Kids will provide games and activities. Families can also tour a Craig Fire Rescue truck and Classic Air Medical helicopter.

Last year, hospice cared for 88 terminally ill patients, about 42 percent of deaths, in Moffat and Routt counties. Northwest Colorado Health, a nonprofit organization, has provided hospice in the two counties for more than 20 years and in Grand County since 2015. In addition to nurses and certified nursing assistants, hospice teams include physical therapists, occupational therapists, a medical social worker and bereavement and spiritual care coordinator. Grief support is available to families for a year after their loved one’s death. “They are all wonderful people. There wasn’t anyone who was here that wasn’t terrific,” Stoddard said.

The day her mother passed away was peaceful. Hospice nurses were there to provide whatever support was needed but also gave Stoddard and her husband time, space and calmness to grieve. “It’s end-of-life, but end-of-life can be beautiful,” she said. “Hospice helps with that because it preserves the dignity of the patient and loved ones. Honestly, I can’t imagine not having hospice.”

Tickets for the Rubber Ducky Race are available online or at Northwest Colorado Health locations, Yampa Valley Bank and the Craig Chamber of Commerce. Tickets also will be available the day of the race at the Ranney Street Bridge. For more information, call 970-871-7609.

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