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Downtown rappelling event spotlights drug, alcohol addiction treatment

Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Ciel Disilvio, 13, of Shadyside prepares to rappel down 26 floors at the Westin, Downtown, on Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014. More than 80 people took part in the event sponsored by Shatterproof, a new national organization committed to protecting children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Ciel Disilvio, 13, of Shadyside prepares to rappel down 26 floors at the Westin, Downtown, on Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014.  More than 80 people took part in the event sponsored by Shatterproof, a new national organization committed to protecting children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Amy Hutchison, 48, of Whitehall, bottom, and Pam Perlow, 48, of Shadyside, top, rappel down the 26 floors at the Westin, Downtown on Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014. Over 80 people took part in the event sponsored by Shatterproof, a new national organization committed to protecting children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Amy Hutchison, 48, of Whitehall, bottom, and Pam Perlow, 48, of Shadyside, top, rappel down the 26 floors at the Westin, Downtown on Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014.  Over 80 people took part in the event sponsored by Shatterproof, a new national organization committed to protecting children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Amy Hutchison, 48, of Whitehall, is reflected in a window as she rappels down the 26 floors at the Westin, Downtown on Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014. Over 80 people took part in the event sponsored by Shatterproof, a new national organization committed to protecting children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Amy Hutchison, 48, of Whitehall, is reflected in a window as she rappels down the 26 floors at the Westin, Downtown on Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014.  Over 80 people took part in the event sponsored by Shatterproof, a new national organization committed to protecting children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 4:24 p.m.
 

Dozens of people working to highlight efforts to treat drug and alcohol addiction rappelled Tuesday down the exterior of the 26-story Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh, a 615-room hotel that connects to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

The Connecticut-based nonprofit Shatterproof organized the event “to draw attention to the national epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction” and to raise money.

Participants wore harnesses, helmets and gloves to descend slowly along a rope anchored to the hotel's roof.

In 2012, Gary Mendell founded Shatterproof and later the Shatterproof Challenge rappelling event to urge families, legislators and others to address addiction among children and young adults. His 25-year-old son, Brian Mendell, lost his battle with addiction in 2011.

Organizers had to postpone the rappelling event originally scheduled for June 25 in Pittsburgh because city building inspectors declined to grant a permit. City officials wanted the nonprofit to conduct a load test to ensure sections of the building's structure could withstand the weight.

Shatterproof has put on similar events in California and Texas in cooperation with Over the Edge, a firm that provides rappelling and rope use expertise.

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