Joe Hittel, right, tears up while chatting with Anakin Suerink. Hittel raised $14,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which sent Suerink to Disney World. File photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

84-year-old Joe Hittel ready to rappel down 12-storey building in Red Deer again

He will participate in the Make-A-Wish Rope for Hope event this summer

Age is just a number for Red Deer’s Joe Hittel.

For the second straight year the 84-year-old will rappel down 12 storeys of the Stantec building in downtown Red Deer to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I had a ton of people ask me if I’m going to do it again and I said, ‘We’ll take it one day at a time.’

“Then come the new year I thought I’ll do it,” said Hittel. “I’m ready to go. I’ve been going around getting donations … since January. A lot of people recognize me from last year.”

The Rope for Hope event calls on participants to raise money and rappel down the edge of high profile buildings in several Canadian cities. The money raised by rappellers goes towards granting the wishes of children with critical illnesses.

READ MORE: Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

This is the third year the event will come to Red Deer. About 30 Red Deer rappellers raised $60,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation at last year’s Rope for Hope.

Hittel raised $14,000 – he was the No. 1 fundraiser in Northern Alberta and No. 2 in all of Canada.

He said he wants to be the No. 1 fundraiser in the country this year.

“Hopefully I can raise enough to send two kids on trips,” said Hittel, adding it costs about $10,000 to grant each wish.

Hittel rappelled down the Stantec building in a leprechaun outfit last year, which is a look he’s going to bring back.

“They’re calling me Leprechaun Joe now,” he said with a laugh. “I’m looking forward to it – I enjoyed every bit last year. I wasn’t scared, everyone thought I might be scared of heights.”

The money he raised granted a wish for Red Deer’s Anakin Suerink. The Star Wars-loving teen was sent to the Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

READ MORE: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

Hittel said he knew he was going to rappel again after meeting Suerink and his family.

“He was so happy and it was a very emotional day. It was a happy day, but very emotional. I even had tears in my eyes,” he said.

Rope for Hope is “something more people should consider doing. It’s for a good cause and it’s an excellent experience.”

To donate online, visit www.makeawishca.donordrive.com/participant/JoeHittel. You can also call Hittel at 403-872-0329.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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