A few posts back I mentioned the great organization called Shatterproof, which was started by Gary Mendell after his son Brian, who suffered from addiction, took his own life. Brian, according to Gary, was ashamed of who he was and didn't want to hurt his family anymore. He was yet another victim of the stigma associated with addiction.
Shatterproof (formerly Brian's Wish) believes that addiction is a disease that shatters lives, and that it's time to say, "ENOUGH!" They are "an unprecedented movement to decisively tackle the disease of addiction to alcohol and other drugs and bridge the enormous gap in addiction resources."
One of the great ways Shatterproof raises awareness and funds for its organization--and for the cause in general--is by hosting cool, fun events throughout the United States. This year, they are offering people the chance to rappel down the sides of buildings in more than 20 U.S. cities. Yes, you read that right. By supporting Shatterproof, you can be like Batman and Robin and rappel down a very tall building. And you don't even have to bring your own Bat Hook.
What you do have to do is some fundraising. If you register for one of the events at the Shatterproof site and get people to pledge at least $1,000.00 in donations, then everybody wins: Shatterproof gets much-needed funds to continue their great work; people who make a (tax-deductible) donation are made aware of the cause; and you get to walk down the side of a building...without going to jail!
Addiction advocacy is a strange bird. Although millions and millions of people in this country are affected by addiction--either because they have a substance abuse problem of their own or someone they love does--there are proportionately very few people working hard to break down the stigma and change things. Gary Mendell is one of those people.
Another one of those people is Dr. Herby Bell, host of the "Sober Conversations" podcast that I appeared on just a few weeks ago. Yesterday Herby's podcast with Gary Mendell went live and I must say it's a great listen. Gary talks about the addiction problem, what Shatterproof is doing to solve it, and his son Brian. It's an incredibly informative, emotional, eye-opening, and thought-provoking interview. You really need to hear it.
Today I give mad props to Gary Mendell. He is not only talking the talk, he is walking the walk; in a huge way. He is bound and determined. He is on a mission. He has set out to fulfill promises he made to his late son. And I have all the confidence in the world that he will succeed. My advice to addiction would be to get the hell out of Gary's way, because he's got the pedal to the metal and he's coming at you with a vengeance.
P.S. When I mentioned the rappelling events that Shatterproof is putting on to one of my dearest friends, Jennifer, she got so excited. She has been incredibly supportive of my entire family over the last several years, especially while my son was battling his addiction. Jennifer is like a sister to me and she has signed on to support Shatterproof and their event in San Antonio on March 19th. She's doing this for two reasons: 1.) To show support for not only my family, but for all the families out there who are affected by this disease. And 2.) Because she loves to live her life to the fullest and really wants to rappel down the side of the One International Centre building in San Antonio! So if you're reading this blog and would be willing to help Jennifer (and Shatterproof) out, a donation of just a few dollars would go a long way toward her reaching her goal. Just go to Jennifer's Shatterproof fundraising page and contribute whatever you'd like.
P.P.S. Here are a couple of YouTube videos that you should watch. The first one is Gary Mendell's speech at the Clinton Foundation's 2013 Health Matters Conference. The second video is...well, the second video speaks for itself. Please take a few minutes and watch them both.