Pulling for new south Niagara hospital and Niagara Falls hospice

Fire truck pull, BBQ a chance for the entire community to come together, Mayor Jim Diodati says.

Many of us have at some point felt what it’s like to be stuck in mud or snow, huffing and puffing and straining while trying to push a stubborn car weighing maybe 3,000 pounds to get it moving again.

Imagine trying to push or pull 10 or 12 of those cars at once.

That’s what teams of people will in a way be attempting to do on Sunday, Sept. 10, in Niagara Falls, when Mayor Jim Diodati has folks compete for bragging rights for the fastest squad to pull a hulking, 35,000-pound fire truck.

The challenge, which Diodati has issued to local business leaders, organizations and anyone else who thinks they have what it takes to pull more than 17 tons of rolling metal, will be part of the community barbecue event he and an organizing team are hosting at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church at 6085 Montrose Rd.

The barbecue, running noon to 4 p.m. with free admission, will see family, friends and neighbours come together for family-oriented games, live entertainment, food and interactive exhibits, with all proceeds going to support the construction of the new south Niagara hospital and construction of a hospice for dignified end-of-life care in Niagara Falls.

The fire truck pull goes ahead at 1 p.m. and will include three prize categories: fastest truck pull, best team spirit and highest team donation.

Diodati announced in March he would host a community event rather than the traditional state-of-the-city mayor’s address this year.

The mayor, who is co-chair of the fundraising committee for the new state-of-the-hospital where construction crews are doing road work and servicing work, said the traditional mayor’s state-of-the-city address was well-attended with hundreds of people.

“(But) the state of the city (address) was geared towards the business community,” he said. “This (community barbecue) is geared towards the entire community, including the business community.”

“It really encourages families and all ages” to come, he said. “This is a chance for the entire community to come together. We’re saving some surprises for the day of, but it’ll be entertainment all day, we’re going to have cotton candy, face painting, touch a truck and axe throwing.”

The city has several corporate donations for purchasing barbecue food and condiments.

“So every dollar raised is going towards the hospice and the hospital,” said Diodati.

In February, EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare was awarded the $3.6-billion contract to design, build, finance and maintain the hospital. Niagara is expected to fund a portion of the construction costs and the cost of equipment.

Diodati said the more that can be raised, the better shape financially Niagara Health’s newest hospital, specializing in stroke care, older adult care and complex care, will be.

“Then we’re not dependent on parking and retail revenues from the hospital to fund equipment,” he said. “We want to make sure that they start out with everything paid for, and then we can fund advanced things for the hospital to be a leading centre in health care. We want them to start out on excellent financial footing.”

Advanced registration is encouraged for the fire-truck pull competition, but teams can register the day of the event until 12:30 p.m., pending space availability. Registration is $250 per team and can be done at https://niagarafalls.ca/pdf/cnf-mayorsbbq-firetruckpull-regform-08-25-2023-fillable.pdf.

Fire Chief Jo Zambito said the reserve Spartan pumper truck, which would be worth $800,000 new, is actually the fire department’s smallest fire truck.

Diodati said the city hasn’t officially launched the campaign for the new hospice but is identifying potential sites. A reserve fund will be set up for all funds raised, he said.

“Then we’ll hit the ground running on the hospice,” he said.

Chris Green, director of communications, marketing and community engagement for Niagara Health Foundation, said people buying burgers at the barbecue will be doing their part to help fund a state-of-the-art hospital while learning more about the facility.

“Every individual’s contribution, regardless of its size, holds a profound impact,” he said. “With each donation, we move closer to ensuring exceptional care for generations to come.”

Paul Forsyth
Paul Forsyth is a veteran of more than 30 years of community journalism who covers a wide range of issues in Niagara Falls and other parts of south Niagara, as well as topics of regional significance in Niagara.
Register Today – $250 for a team of 10 ($25 per person). 
Contact Shelley at BBQ@niagarafalls.ca
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