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Originally published in Ellicottville Now, authored by Mary Heyl

Whether you’re on the slopes, on the sand, or even on a backyard slide, there are all kinds of ways to participate in this year’s Annual Penguin Paddle to benefit the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program (LASP)! That’s right: This year’s Penguin Paddle has gone virtual, and although it will be a bit different than the annual belly slide down Holiday Valley’s Yodeler slope, it promises to be just as much fun!

In 1987, Bill Lounsbury, a ski patroller at Holiday Valley, lost his leg to cancer, but continued to ski using hand-held skis, inspiring all who knew him. When he passed away, many donations were made in his honor, and the money was used to start the LASP, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and chapter of Disabled Sports USA. The program’s mission is to “deEMPHASIZE the disABILITY” and serves individuals between the ages of 5 and 75 of all physical and mental abilities, ranging from paralysis, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis to autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. The program consists of volunteer instructors who work with students in affordable, private lessons at Holiday Valley.

The annual Penguin Paddle is the program’s biggest fundraiser each year and normally involves participants purchasing a garbage bag and wearing it as they stomach-slide down Yodeler. The annual event also includes a much-anticipated silent auction, raffle and food tent. Bill’s daughter, Kara Lounsbury Elias is coordinating the online portion of the event, which is completely run by volunteers each year. “We all decided that with the local restrictions and Holiday Valley’s guidelines that the Penguin Paddle had to become a virtual event this year,” she explained. “Safety is important for the instructors and everyone who participates in the general program.”

There are several significant differences between the virtual event and the in-person event that actually allow for more participation over a longer period of time. Elias explained, “One benefit of having the event virtually is that we have the opportunity to reach a much broader audience.”

No matter where participants are located, they can register online at and complete their belly slide anywhere they choose from now until Feb. 27th!

Elias added, “The idea is that people will do their own penguin slide at home or at a park and can be creative! It doesn’t even have to be on snow! They could slide down a slide or on sand – wherever they happen to be!”

Once someone has completed their slide, he or she can post a photo on social media with the Penguin Paddle hashtags #LASP #penguinpaddle #penguinchallenge and tag @LounsburyAdaptive on Facebook or Instagram. Then, make a Penguin Paddle donation online or by mailing a check to Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program, Holiday Valley Resort, PO Box 370, Ellicottville, NY 14731. The last step is to tag three others to challenge them to participate in the Penguin Paddle.

“We’re trying to maintain the fun and interactive component, even though we can’t be together,” Elias said. “It’s always been in person, rain or shine, and sometimes the weather is supportive and sometimes it’s not. This year, it doesn’t matter what the weather is!”

This year’s raffle and silent auction will take place exclusively online (, and the website is being updated daily as prize donations come in. Raffle tickets are available online and in-person at Holiday Valley or from any LASP instructor. The raffle ticket drawing will be held on Saturday, Feb. 27th at 3:00pm. Winners need not be present to win.Tickets are one for $5 or five for $20; prizes include a Holiday Valley Season’s Pass, $100 Gift Card to Lowe’s Home Improvement, and High-Performance Skis from The City Garage Ski Shop, Ellicottville.

The silent auction bidding opens on Saturday, Feb. 20th and closes at 3:00pm on Saturday, Feb. 27th. New silent auction items are added daily, said Elias. “Local merchants and business owners have been very generous. They have never failed to support us and made all kinds of donations,” she said. “Even in this difficult year, we’re really fortunate to still have their support.”

Auction prizes include private ski lessons, a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, original artwork, food, wine, and even the opportunity to ride on the groomer at Holiday Valley! Winners can make arrangements to pick up their prizes, or in the case of gift certificates, receive them by mail.

Donations can be made to the LASP any time at This year’s special “COVID” edition Penguin Paddle t-shirt is also available on the website. For questions, email or message Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program on Facebook.

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