Addiction is one of those things that, unfortunately, touches the lives of over 20 million Americans. Of course, Austinites are not immune to this issue, and now a group of local chefs are joining together to address addiction head on, thanks to a very unusual fundraising event.

The Shatterproof Challenge is a fairly new national fundraiser — this is the third year for the event that finds rappellers at all levels (including beginner), raising money and attention to combat addiction. Six other major cities have hosted this year’s challenge, including Dallas where this year’s challenge kicked off on May 21. So far in 2016, the challenge has raised over $2 million.

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Austin’s challenge on November 16 will be the final event of the year, with 100 participants rappelling from the top of the downtown hotel. All of the participants have their own personal stories of addiction, and they will be supported by business leaders and advocates who support them during their 20 story drop. 

One of those teams includes a group of Austin chefs, led by James Beard finalist Philip Speer. Speer’s team is a powerhouse group of chefs including Paul Qui and Philip’s wife Callie. Rounding out the team are Page Pressley of Emmer & Rye, Nic Yanes of Juniper, Gabe Erales of Geraldine’s, Howard Chang of Wu Chow, Brandon Hunt of VIA 313, Barry Gamache of Swift’s Attic, and Jared Ferguson of Garage.

“It was important for the team of substance free prominent chefs to come together as one and work towards ending the stigma of addiction as well as supporting those who have been affected by it,” noted a press release.

Both Speer and Qui have been at the center of very public ordeals that stem from their addiction issues.

Team Leader Speer explained the motivation behind his involvement. “My addiction affected my life, and that of my children especially and others around me,” said Speer. “I was motivated by the Shatterproof story because I believe it’s important to have conversations about addiction so that the stigma is erased. So much can be helped by beginning a dialogue about such a pressing issue.”

Since its inception four years ago, Shatterproof has reached millions through its fundraising events. Shatterproof has worked tirelessly to pass legislature in 11 states, as well as at the National level, that has and continues to save lives. The nonprofit organizes events like The Shatterproof Challenge Rappel in an effort to fund and raise awareness of their mission; they strive to end the unjust stigma of addiction while supporting all families who have been affected by substance abuse disorder.

“The hardest step in recovery is the first one—just like in a rappel. I’m grateful to all those who joined us in our rappelling events this year,” Gary Mendell, Shatterproof Founder and CEO, said.

To support this team, support another team, or join in on the event as a rappeller (you’ll need to meet the $1000 fundraising minimum by next week), visit the Shatterproof Challenge site.


Featured photo from Shatterproof’s Facebook page

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