When the Calgary Stampede said "Come Hell or High Water" after a flood washed through Southern Alberta leaving much of the grounds flooded, they meant it.
More than a million people walked through the doors of the Calgary Stampede during its 101st year - three weeks after the grounds were awash in mud and flood water - raising $2.1 million in flood relief through T-shirt sales.
“Supportive Calgarians and visitors encouraged us to host Stampede 101 – come Hell or High Water,” said Bob Thompson, president and chairman. “The desire to forge ahead with Stampede 101 was heard loud and clear from the community."
Half of the rodeo and evening shows were almost sold out, said the Calgary Stampede, with 80 per cent of visitors saying they had an "exceptional experience."
The Calgary Stampede sold T-shirts with the phrase "Hell or High Water" on them, raising $2.1 million for the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Flood Fund on behalf of supporters.
“This was an unprecedented fundraising campaign for the Calgary Stampede,” said Vern Kimball, CEO of the Calgary Stampede. “We anticipated the campaign would be successful; however, we never anticipated presenting a cheque of this amount to the Canadian Red Cross – it is truly overwhelming.”
The project has been a community powered one, said the Calgary Stampede, with countless volunteers folding, sorting and packing shirts and companies donating goods or encouraging employees to volunteer.
“The overwhelming support for the Calgary Stampede’s Hell or High Water campaign shows the spirit and tenacity of Albertans,” says Sue Phillips, Canadian Red Cross Director General for Western Canada.
“For those affected by the floods, the road to recovery will be long. This generous donation received today from the Calgary Stampede will help Red Cross assist individuals, families and communities as they rebuild their lives from Alberta’s worst flooding disaster.”
Find photos from the Calgary Stampede's 101st year below: