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Shatterproof: Rappelling to fight addiction

CINCINNATI (Brad Underwood) -- It's a topic Local 12 reports on almost every week, drug addiction.
   
Deaths, new treatments, prevention, the list goes on and on but a new organization called Shatterproof travels the country, spreading the word, trying to make a change to protect children from addiction and end the stigma of those affected by the disease.

From the top of the Westin hotel, one step at a time more than 60 people rappelled from the roof in memory of someone they've lost.

Pamela Bitzenhofer was there for Brian Mendell.  Mendell was 23-years-old when he died in 2011 after struggling with addiction for more than a decade.  Shatterproof was the creation of his father, Gary Mendell.  It's a promise Mendell made to his son to do something about children who struggle with addiction.

Gary told Local 12, "He woke up one morning and wrote a note to us about how ashamed he was to live with the label of an addict. He told us how much he loved us, to test his blood that he hadn't used in a year but he couldn't live with the shame and he took his life."

Traveling the country, Mendell shared his story with people like Lori Keller.  Keller repelled for her daughter, Ashlee.  Keller said her Ashlee used heroin to cope with depression.

She was clean for two years, "One week night where she was having some problems, she made the fatal mistake to use," said Keller.

A choice Keller has to explain to people when they ask how her daughter died.

"And I tell them and I can immediately see defenses go up. Their total demeanor changes," said Keller.

And it's that stigma that Keller, Mendell and every person rappelling wanted to change.  But also gain more support and less judgment.

Shatterproof hasn't even celebrated a full a year of existence.  This year they will repel in 16 cities, next year 30 cities.

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