BETHESDA, Md. — With his neck craned toward the grey, rainy sky, Gary Mendell explains why there are people rappelling 15 stories down the side of the Bethesda Metro Center on a Tuesday afternoon.

“There’s two people and there’s a crowd here working to end the shame and stigma that’s unfairly associated with addiction,” he says.

Mendell founded the national organization Shatterproof, which aims to bring awareness to the 22 million Americans it says are suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Four years ago, he lost his own son, Brian, to addiction.

“I was haunted by the fact that for every disease in this country, there was one well-funded national organization doing wonderful things – except for addiction,” Mendell said.

Shatterproof’s rappelling challenge people to raise funds and awareness about addiction by daring them to repel.

Kevin Sockwell says he was inspired to repel in Bethesda because of his work as a drug addiction counselor.

“This is honor of all the people I’ve served, will serve and for people to be aware,” Sockwell says. “I know how difficult it is. I know how hard it is.”

Click here for more information about Shatterproof.

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