Red Deer’s Joe Hittel will rappel down the Stantec building in downtown Red Deer for the third year in a row at the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Rope for Hope event July 18. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

‘Leprechaun Joe’ to rappel down Stantec building in Red Deer for third year

Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Rope for Hope event is July 18

Age can’t stop one Red Deer man from making a difference.

Joe Hittel, 84, will once again rappel down the Stantec building in Red Deer to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Several individuals will rappel down the side of the 12-storey building for the foundation’s annual Rope for Hope on July 18.

This is the third time Hittel will participate in event, which has been in Red Deer for four years. In 2018 he raised $14,000, which was second-most in Canada, and in 2019 he was Canada’s top fundraiser, with $33,000.

“So over those first two years we’ve raised just over $47,000 for Make-A-Wish kids. It takes $10,000 to send one kid to where they want to go,” Hittel said Tuesday.

“It gives you happiness knowing the feeling these kids had and the enjoyment they got out of the wish.”

Hittel will shoot for the stars this summer, as he wants to raise $85,000 in honour of his 85th birthday next month.

“I had people asking me before Christmas if I was going to do it again. I said, ‘Wow, do you know how old I’m going to be next year? I’m going to be 85.’ They said, ‘Great. We’ll raise $85,000 for your 85th,” said Hittel.

“We’ll make it happen.”

Hittel will continue his tradition of dressing up as a leprechaun for his journey down the side of the building.

In addition to collecting donations around the city, there will also be an online auction and a silent auction at Chillabong’s Bar & Grill in Red Deer to raise money. The dates for those auctions are to be determined.

“We’ve got a few different programs we’ll go with this year to help raise more money.”

People can also donate online by visiting Donations can also be made by calling Hittel at 403-872-0329.

“Getting support from the community feels great. So far with the places I’ve gone to (seek donations), they know me, they see me coming and they already know what I’m after.

“I suppose the economy could be a bit of a challenge, but it wasn’t last year.”

Hittel said he hopes there’s a big crowd at this year’s Rope for Hope.

“It’d be great to have as many people down there as possible cheering me down. It always helps when there’s a lot of cheering going on,” he said.

Hittel received the 2019 Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association Fundraising Professionals Edmonton and Area chapter for his fundraising work.

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