What possessed Courtney Keister to rappel down the facade of the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.?
Guts, for one thing.
Keister, who earned her M.Ed. in applied education at Wilmington University in 2012 and is currently working on her Ed.D. also at WilmU performed the feat to raise awareness about alcohol and drug addiction for an organization called Shatterproof. Keister knows the pain of seeing a loved one struggle with addiction. Her brother Tyler died of an overdose at 24.
“Physically climbing over the railing at the ledge of a 27-story building was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life,” says Keister. “However, losing my brother to the disease of addiction was the saddest. My family was there for it all.
“Since losing Tyler, my family has started an action group in the community, atTAcK Addiction, to make changes for those impacted by addiction. We have helped get legislation passed and supported people and their families in recovery in a variety of ways. Most important, we have become very open about our loss and are working to break the stigmas attached to the disease of addiction. The work I do with this group has been a large part of my healing process, and the progress I’ve seen in the community because of all the people who have rallied together to form atTAacK Addiction assures me that Tyler’s short life has a higher purpose.”
Keister and her grandfather, Wayne Wright, came from Delaware to embark on this mission. “Getting to rappel next to my 74-year-old grandfather was a great bonding experience something I know Tyler would have loved to do and certainly something I’ll never forget,” says Keister.
The WilmU grad was one of several climbers who each had to raise $1,000 to participate. The event raised more than $100,000.