After losing his son Brian in 2011 to this chronic disease, Mendell quit his high-power job and put all efforts into educating about addiction and its cycle of shame, isolation and failure. But more than just educating, what Shatterproof has done in just a few short years is incredible: lobbying Congress to monitor opioid prescriptions and curb misuse, making naloxone and other medical assistance more available, hosting family marathons around the country to raise awareness (and funds), and much more.
The evening’s honoree was menswear industry icon Larry Leeds, who lost his son Cary to addiction and established The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis and Learning in his memory. The $26.5 million Center is based in a low-income section of the Bronx and makes the sport accessible to young people who might not otherwise ever play the game.
In addition to raising $650,000 at the auction (hosted by everyone’s favorite meteorologist and part-time comedian Dave Price), the Mitchells shared their own personal addiction stories, reinforcing the point that this is a brain disease that happens in the best of families and should never be stigmatized. As Brian Mendell said to his dad before he died, “I hope someday people will realize that I’m not a bad person, that I have a disease and I’m trying my hardest.”
For information or to get involved, visit www.shatterproof.org.