Anakin Suerink and Joe Hittel rappel down the side of the Stantec building in downtown Red Deer during the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Rope for Hope fundraiser last year. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Anakin Suerink and Joe Hittel rappel down the side of the Stantec building in downtown Red Deer during the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Rope for Hope fundraiser last year. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer’s Joe Hittel ready to rappel down a building for the Make-A-Wish Foundation again

For the fourth straight year, Joe Hittel will rappel down a building to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

But this year will be bigger than ever for the 86-year-old Red Deerian.

Hittel will wear his trademark leprechaun costume as he rappels down the 23-storey Coast Edmonton Plaza during the Rope for Hope fundraiser Aug. 28.

“I’ve had a few (donors) say to me, ‘I thought you told us last year, that was going to be your last time doing it.’ I said, ‘Well that was last year, now I’m back,’” Hittel said.

Traditionally, there has been a Rope for Hope event hosted at the 13-storey Stantec building in Red Deer, but this year central Alberta participants will take part in the event in Edmonton instead. Hittel said he isn’t nervous about rappelling down an extra 10 floors.

“It just gives me more time to relax. The tough part is going around and getting donations,” he said.

“But even with the way things are, with the shutdowns and with COVID, everybody is doing great with donations.”

In 2019 and 2020, Hittel was Rope for Hope’s top fundraiser in Canada. Through his first three years, he has raised more than $102,000. After raising more than $32,000 in 2019, he was named the year’s Outstanding Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Edmonton and area chapter.

“All the money I raise stays in Red Deer and central Alberta,” he said.

It costs about $10,000 to grant each wish. The youth who received the first wish Hittel helped grant was Red Deer’s Anakin Suerink. Last year, Suerink himself raised $10,000 before rappelling down the Stantec building next to Hittel. The two will rappel down Coast Edmonton Plaza side-by-side this year as well.

“We’ll be the last ones to rappel down that day,” he said.

Hittel raised more than $53,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation at the 2020 Rope for Hope event. He wants to raise $86,000 this year to celebrate is 86th birthday.

To donate, visit bit.ly/JoeHittel or call Hittel at 403-872-0329.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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