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Dozens battle fear, help those suffering from addiction

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It was far from a typical Tuesday for Tara Vandygriff.

"Normally I would be in a meeting right now," said Vandygriff.

Instead, she was getting all geared up to rappel down the Hyatt.

"Yea, it`s high but it will be alright. I like roller coasters, I like adrenaline so it should be fun," said Vandygriff.

But she's not doing it just for fun, Vandygriff is helping to draw attention to the countless lives shattered by drug and alcohol abuse.

"Once you`re addicted it is vicious. I mean it is so relentless," said Shatterproof Founder Gary Mendell.

Each person rappelling fundraised for the organization Shatterproof.

Gary Mandell founded Shatterproof in 2012 to help others suffering from this disease and to end the stigma of addiction, after losing his 25-year-old son Brian.

"He wrote a suicide note that said `Test my blood, I`m clean, I don`t want to hurt anyone anymore, I`m ashamed of myself.` That is not right. He`s ashamed because he had a disease," said Mendell.

As people scaled down the building they were assisting in Shatterproof's mission to provide awareness, prevention, and treatment to those who need it.

"This is really about protecting our children, 80% 8 out of 10 of those addicted in this country became addicted before the age of 18," said Mendell.

As Vandygriff touched down on the ground she felt a sense of pride.

“I think when you’re faced with a challenge it makes you realize that everyone faces challenges, whether it’s just stepping off a roof or everyday getting out of bed and facing substance abuse,” said Vandygriff.

But Vandygriff and many of the other rappellers also carry hope that those battling addiction will get the help they deserve.

According to Shatterproof, 15 Americans die every hour due to addiction.

For more information on Shatterproof, CLICK HERE.

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