Watch CBS News

Dozens Rappel Down Westin Hotel To Raise Addiction Awareness

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Thrill-seekers were out in full force today in Downtown Pittsburgh as they had a chance to rappel down a 27-story building

About 100 people rappelled down the Westin Convention Center Hotel, including KDKA-TV's Jon Burnett.

After a safety briefing on the roof, it was time to take the first step.

"Bring it out of the closet, bring it away from the shame and stigma. Get people talking about it. This is a disease, and I'm really excited because that's what's happening today. We are talking about it on the roof. We are talking about it at the base of the building," Shatterproof Founder Gary Mendell said.

What they are talking about is ending the stigma of addiction through an organization called Shatterproof.

"It shows them that we all can be here and support them no matter what they are dealing with, and I know it's a struggle every day and everybody's here to support them," Betsy Johnson said.

"I am here to support the cause. It's a great cause. It affects so many people and how often do you get to rappel off a downtown building," Joe Petak said.

Not everyone was as excited, including Mendell, who admits to being terrified of heights. His son, Brian, battled addiction and killed himself despite 13 months of being clean.

"My room here is on the eighth story. I can't even walk to the window. But, people with addiction conquer their fears every day. I can conquer my fears for 10 minutes and frankly, it's conquering your fear for a few seconds. It's the first few seconds when you first lean over. After that, I don't look down. I just go down looking at the wall," Mendel said.

They raised more than $100,000 today for Shatterproof.

"Look what is happening with your City of Pittsburgh. Look around. All the support, all the people who volunteered, all the people who are volunteering, all the people that have e-mailed me, telling me how much this means to them to be talking about this," Mendell said.

Watch Jon Burnett Rappel Down Westin Hotel

Jon Burnett joined "The KDKA Morning News" to talk about his experience rappelling down the Westin and told John Shumway it was all for a good cause.

Jon Burnett with John Shumway on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA


More Local News
More Reports From Rick Dayton

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.