An eighty-four-year-old Red Deerian says wasn’t afraid to rappel down the 13-storey Stantec building.
Joe Hittel was part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s annual event that calls on participants to raise money and rappel down the side of high-profile buildings in several Canadian cities.
The money raised goes toward granting the wishes of children with critical illnesses.
On average, each wish granted by the foundation costs about $10,000.
Hittel’s efforts raised about $33,000 Saturday morning. He was happy to be able to grant wishes for three children, all thanks to his supporters and donors.
The money he raised made Hittel Canada’s top Rope for Hope fundraiser. That title is special to the senior, given that he aspired to get there when he was raising money last year for the same cause.
“Last year, I raised over $14,000 and I was No. 2 in Canada, and that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to be No. 1 in Canada.”
Hittel donned a leprechaun outfit for the occasion, and unlike some other participants, said he wasn’t nervous.
“I wasn’t scared last year, either. It has been a great adventure for me,” he said, adding he’s proud to be helping kids with the support of his donors.
“I took my time getting down – I wasn’t worried or scared. But my family down here was freaking out,” he said with a chuckle.
This year, Hittel had Anakin Suerink by his side during the rappelling. Suerink’s wish was granted last year when the teen went to Disney World.
Since he was born, he has had health problems, including epilepsy, scoliosis and brain tumours.
Hittel has met with many parents whose children had their wishes granted by the charity.
“The stories I heard about their sons and daughters when I was going around for donations, that made me push further,” he said.
“I do have a big family. I have grandchildren and great grandkids and everybody is all right, but hey, who knows what can happen? Things can change any day,” said.
Rappelling down the Stantec building was a first for 31-year-old Adam Lebert.
The Red Deer resident was nervous as he stood at the edge of the building, about to rappel down.
“After the edge, it wasn’t too bad, honestly. That edge was almost impossible. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he said.
Lebert said he would do it again, as long as it is for a good cause.
“It’s just really satisfying to see the whole project come together, see the other people who were fundraising and meet some of the kids.”