OCEAN CITY – As Atlantic General Hospital’s (AGH) 23rd Annual Penguin Swim approaches, event officials are looking to raise $76,000 for free and low-cost programs.
Joy Stokes, event coordinator and development assistant for the Penguin Swim, said AGH has gathered roughly $34,000 for this year’s event as of Tuesday, but added that these funds will increase on the day of the swim, where participants and big event sponsors, such as Bull on the Beach and Ocean City Ravens Roost 44, will submit their donations.
“We always aim a little lower and get a little higher,” Stokes said.
The financial goal for this year’s swim falls in line with proceeds from recent years, according to Stokes. In 2014, swimmers and sponsors raised more than $78,000. This number decreased to more than $77,000 the following year. Last year’s annual Penguin Swim, however, saw the most participants.
“The 2016 event was an overwhelming success with a record-breaking 1,035 swimmers, 60 teams, and support from 46 sponsors, which raised more than $106,000,” she said.
Currently, this year’s swim is on par to meet last year’s participation record, but Stokes added fundraising totals will not be known until after the event on New Year’s Day. Last year’s net proceeds amassed more than $87,000.
These statistics are a far cry from the hospital’s first Penguin Swim, where only a handful of participants raised less than $1,000. Since then, Stokes said Bull on the Beach, and its owner Phil Houck, has played a large role in sponsoring the event.
As of Tuesday, 175 individuals and 26 teams have signed up online and 42 sponsors have donated.
“This will enable the Atlantic General Hospital and Health System to strengthen programs, enhance services and medical technologies, attract the best clinical staff, fund renovation projects, and maintain a healing environment in the coming year,” Stokes said. “The Penguin Swim is one of our largest fundraisers in support of Atlantic General Hospital’s mission to create a coordinated care delivery system that will provide access to quality care, personalized service and education to improve individual and community health. All proceeds from this event benefit the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation.”
Stokes said money raised in the fundraiser will go to support health fairs, flu shots, clinics and more.
Each swimmer is responsible for paying a $25 registration fee, but can contribute more by seeking donations from friends, family and neighbors.
Prizes will be awarded to individuals and teams who raise the most money.
The registration fee will get each swimmer an event T-shirt. Additional prizes, such as bags, Swell bottles and beach towels, will be given to those who raise additional funds.
Pre-registration and advanced check in begins Dec. 31 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Princess Royale. Registration and event-day check in begins Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Premiere Lobby.
Carnival games, face painting, cash bar and ice sculptures will take place in the Princess Royale Atrium preceding the swim, which takes place at 1 p.m.
Stokes said participants must register and receive a wrist band to gain access to the Atrium and swim area.
An awards ceremony will follow the swim at 1:15 p.m., where first, second and third-place individual and team winners, oldest and youngest swimmer and costume contest winners will be announced.