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Civic Impact

Adrenaline rush: Fundraiser challenges participants to repel down a building


Kathleen C. D'Appolonia understands the struggles of addiction well. Her son suffered with addiction for several years and nearly lost his life. Today he's eight years sober and will be repelling down the Westin as part of the Shatterproof Challenge to raise awareness for addiction.

The Shatterproof Challenge is an event organized by Shatterproof, a non-profit organization that works to support addiction advocacy efforts across the country. Participants in the Shatterproof Challenge who fundraise $1,000 or more are invited to repel down a building in the host city. In Pittsburgh, this building is the Westin Hotel in downtown.

Funds raised through the challenges are used to strengthen addiction resources in research, prevention, treatment and public policy. Currently Shatterproof is focusing funds on the launch of a resource center in December that will provide a comprehensive collection of information for all audiences that need support with addiction. They will also advocate for insurance reimbursement for screening and intervention programs for teens and for Good Samaritan Laws and Naloxone legislation to help prevent overdoses.

"I think I'm not different from many other parents who have dealt with their child's addiction," D'Appolonia says. "We experienced the nightmare of finding and coordinating evidence-based care and dealt with the stigma and secrecy of addiction. We were furious to find that there is so little research into the causes and markers for prevention and that there's so little that the professionals in your life like physicians, psychologists, teachers, police, attorneys and others can help with."

D'Appolonia adds that she hopes the Shatterproof Challenge and the funds raised through these events will help bring awareness to addiction and reduce the stigma addicts and their families experience during such a difficult time.

"Often people don't want to hear about addiction," she says. "Sometimes there's the assumption that there's a defect somewhere in your child or in his/her upbringing and that it's a moral failing. Families that deal with addiction often feel shame. They deal not only with their addicted child, but also with the devastating impact the addiction has on the rest of the family and they deal with it in silence. Imagine if your child had cancer. There would outpourings of support. That doesn't happen with addiction. Shatterproof will address this by educating the public on the prevalence of the disease, the science of addiction, and the need for better resources and support."

Learn more about the Shatterproof Challenge at www.shatterproof.org
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