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Climbing for Casa Connor: Calgarians raise money for in-need Mexican children

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Almost 100 people climbed the Calgary Tower's 802 steps early Saturday morning for a good cause. 

The fundraising event, put on by staff at Emily Follensbee School, saw 93 participants head up the stairs to raise money for the Mexico’s Canadian Angels Foundation (MCA). 

The registered Canadian charity was started for local student Connor Vanderveen, who passed away in 2011. He attended Emily Follensbee School, which provides additional support to children with complex needs. His parents say the care he received inspired them to want to help others, elsewhere. 

"In Puerto Vallarta, there is no help for kids and their families with disabilities," Geraldine Vanderveen told CTV News. "So it was very important to us that we share the wealth we have here with the kids and families there, and that's where the idea was born."

With the help of volunteers and fundraising, MCA was able to re-home a tiny organization in Mexico called Pasitos de Luz. 

That help turned the 700 sq/ft facility into a 20,000 sq/ft castle to provide services to youth and children with disabilities. 

The money raised Saturday will go towards the facility, referred to as Casa Connor. 

Organizer Erica Brooks says they've almost raised $35,000. 

"We were hoping to hit about $8,000 just to buy a couple of pieces of equipment, and we've well surpassed that thanks to our sponsors and participants and everyone else supporting us," she said. "It's a labour of love here in Calgary."

"It's terrific," Vanderveen added. "I'm not going to tear up, but the ongoing support has been incredible."

The Calgary Tower will be lit up orange Saturday night to recognize Connor and the charity's work.

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