Like a genie, Joe Hittel wants to grant three wishes.
The 84-year-old Red Deer man has already raised more than $20,000 ahead of the annual Rope for Hope event next month, where he will rappel down the 12-storey Stantec building downtown.
The event calls on participants to raise money and rappel down the edge of high profile buildings in several Canadian cities. Money raised by rappellers goes toward granting the wishes of children with critical illnesses.
On average, each wish granted by the foundation costs $10,000 and Hittel wants to raise $30,000.
“I would love to send three Make-A-Wish kids,” he said.
“The more I think about it, the more I want to raise that much. We’ve been pretty busy raising money.”
This is the third year Rope for Hope will come to Red Deer and the second year Hittel will participate. He raised $14,000 in 2018, which was the second most in Canada.
Hittel, who will rappel down the building in a leprechaun outfit, said there are 200 children in Alberta waiting to have their wishes grants.
“There are eight kids in Red Deer alone waiting to have their wish granted and there are nine more in central Alberta.
“It would be lovely if I could get three of them … sent to wherever they want to go.”
Since he began fundraising, Hittel has met with multiple parents whose children had their wishes granted.
“The more I talk to these people, the more I feel I better up it from $20,000 to $30,000.”
A phone call Hittel received a few weeks back is a perfect example of why he wants to raise money.
“The caller ID said it was Make-A-Wish, so I answered it and this young girl, probably around 12 years old, asked to speak with Joe Hittel. I said, ‘This is Joe.’
“She said, ‘I just want to thank you for all the work you’re doing for the Make-A-Wish kids.’ I couldn’t believe it. Things like that keeps me pushing harder.”
The Rope For Hope event is July 20.
“I’m getting excited. I spoke with one guy who rappelled with me last year. He told me, ‘I wish I had taken my time. The only thing I regret is that I went down too fast.’ It’s all about enjoying it while you come down. That’s what I did.”
A silent auction to raise money for Hittel’s campaign will be held at Chillibong’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer at 7 p.m. Saturday.
To donate online, visit www.makeawishca.donordrive.com/participant/JoeHittel. You can also call Hittel at 403-872-0329.