In the midst of intense dealmaking, meetings and cocktail events at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), came a true light of inspiration at the second annual Shatterproof Hospitality Heroes Reception. For those of you not familiar with Shatterproof, it is a national nonprofit dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes. The hospitality industry’s own Gary Mandell, co-founder of HEI Hotels & Resorts, started Shatterproof as a promise to his son Brian, whom he lost to the disease of addiction in 2011. That promise became, as stated on its website, a vision to build a national organization “that will treat addiction like the chronic disease that it is, offering evidence-based and tangible resources for prevention, treatment and recovery” and that “will foster tolerance and compassion, and to dismantle the discrimination and judgement associated with this nondiscriminating disease.”
A few years back, I was unfamiliar with Shatterproof, but did notice ALIS attendees rappelling 26 stories off the JW Marriott. Not being a fan of heights, this caught my attention. Later, colleagues were sharing pictures and video of their rappel and, while my dislike for heights was confirmed, I started to learn about Shatterproof. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to hear Gary speak at several events, and it is impossible not to be saddened by his story, but more than that, it is impossible not to be inspired by his love, passion and determination for this cause.
And this time was no exception. What I did not expect was the display of courage and openness that was to follow by a fellow member of our industry, Amanda Hite, president/CEO of STR. We’ve seen her on stage before, sharing the latest industry stats, but this was different. Standing in front of a room full of colleagues, Amanda shared a very personal story about losing her brother to the disease of addiction. I was no less than amazed and inspired by Amanda’s honesty in sharing this story in hopes it may help others. I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder to be part of this industry.
As if that wasn’t enough, Seaview Investors’ Robert (Bob) Alter was then presented with the 2019 Hospitality Heroes Award. “I am honored to be this year’s recipient but, more importantly, I am looking forward to the opportunity to help raise awareness and mission-critical funds for Shatterproof,” he said.
More than 50 hospitality companies sponsored this event, raising more than $635,000 for Shatterproof. Since 2016, the industry has raised more than $3 million at ALIS events. Did I mention I’m proud to be a part of this industry?