The 2023 Hike for Hospice saw a new event that had crowds gathering and cheering, as this was the debut year of the firetruck pull! As the name implies, several teams competed in a friendly contest to see who could pull the 11 500 kilogram vehicle 75 feet the fastest.
The Strathmore High School Spartans rugby team earned the fastest time with an impressive 14.56 seconds, while the Paw Patrol team was close behind at 14.66. Rugby player Zachery Piper was excited to earn the win, especially since he said there was a bit of extra motivation in helping them get that blazing-fast time.
"It feels really good, our coach promised us a free lunch or dinner if we beat the Strathmore Fire Department and we did that so I'm really happy that happened," Piper said.
The 14.56 time was actually the high school's second attempt, as their first attempt saw them clock in at 16.06. Piper said having another chance helped them make adjustments that earned them the win.
"We just told our boys to get lower because the lower you are the stronger you pull, and we made sure no one fell until the truck crossed the line, and that I think bumped up our time a couple of seconds."
Chair of the Wheatland and Area Hospice Society Dr. Joni McNeely said the first firetruck pull was a huge success, as they had the maximum amount of teams sign up and the variety was great to see.
"I was just thrilled that our inaugural fire truck pull was so successful. It does really demonstrate the strength of each individual pulling with others towards one goal and shows that big or small, we can all make a big difference together," she said.
The firetruck pull was only half of the day though, as the actual hike started shortly after, which McNeely said also went well.
"The hike was a nice event as well. The weather cooperated which we were very pleased about. The majority of participants did the five-kilometre hike and prior to that they were entertained by the Wheatland Whirlers and there was some face painting and just an opportunity to sit and chat with friends and neighbors," she said.
As for the fundraising aspect, McNeely said they are still collecting donations and haven't tallied everything up like cheques from companies, but at the moment they sit at around $16 000 raised. She's optimistic they'll hit their target goal of $25 000 once all is said and done. However, it's not just about the money for McNeely and all those who poured countless hours into funding a hospice.
"The intent of the hike is not only to raise money, but also to promote the idea of volunteerism, which Gerry Cool spoke to. And it also reinforces the idea that we can all in our own individual way contribute to a very important cause."
The Hospice Society is currently sitting at around $2.7 million dollars raised in total, which will go towards building their hospice in conjuction with the Wheatland Housing Management Body. McNeely said they will have a better idea of how much the Hospice Society will contribute once the plans are put in place to build the new seniors' lodge, but for now the focus remains on continuing to find ways to contribute to their cause.
The full times from each team for the firetruck pull are as follows:
- Strathmore High School rugby team: 14.56 seconds
- Paw Patrol (a team consisting of people from several groups: 14.66 seconds
- Strathmore Fire Department: 15.14 seconds
- Carseland Fire Department: 16.09 seconds
- Wheatland West Fire Department: 16.10 seconds
- Cheadle Lions Club: 16.11 seconds
- More Than Just Feed: 17.41
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