Since returning several weeks ago from Tthe Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) 2017 in Los Angeles, I have received numerous service provider newsletters summarizing key conference impressions. These circulars may be an interesting read for those that did not attend ALIS this year as well as those like me that did, however only networked and were not present at any sessions. 

A significant takeaway for me from this and last year’s ALIS was the Shatterproof Challenge Rappel held alongside ALIS. I do not often become passionate and involved in a cause. However, in 2011, my friend and former college classmate, Gary Mendell, chairman of HEI Hotels & Resorts, lost his son as a result of addiction. During the years that followed, Gary has embarked on a path to better understand this awful disease and most important, how lives can be saved so other children, parents and families can be spared the devastating effects of addiction.

 What was learned was startling.  Addiction permeates all social and economic boundaries. Many hide behind a veil of “it won’t be my child” or “not here because we are good parents,” which are dangerous fallacies. Addiction is now the third-largest killer in the U.S., behind only cancer and heart disease.  Despite this, Gary learned that there was no leading national charitable organization focused on evidence based prevention, treatment and recovery programs. Gary has poured his heart and soul, as well a substantial sum of his own money, into founding and swiftly expanding Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation that addiction causes families. 

If you are not familiar with Gary or Shatterproof, or even if you are, please consider reading this article, which describes the impassioned address which Gary has now delivered dozens of times across the nation for a cause he has dedicated his life to.

Gary’s loss of his son continues to pain me greatly as it forces me to ponder how one can possibly deal with the loss of a child. As the father of two terrific young men, I cannot imagine such an experience. No parent should ever have to endure such a tragedy. Please learn more about this cause and consider some sort of involvement to help raise awareness and funds for Shatterproof.