Dennis Janson: Shattering the stigma of addiction by rappelling off Downtown Cincinnati hotel

Took my last drink 17 years ago

CINCINNATI -- It was many years ago but I still remember the night Billy Magnus introduced himself at Arthur’s in Hyde Park. He didn’t need to tell me he was my old friend Edie’s younger brother, the resemblance was apparent. 

Our paths crossed periodically over the ensuing years. Usually in a bar. Four years ago while having dinner with our old friends Shelli and Ira Joe Fisher in a charming Stamford, Conn. restaurant, Edie buckled my knees with news that her brother had died. Billy she told me, had died in a drug-related incident in 2006.  All that potential, all that warmth, all that personality, gone at 46.

Edie leveled me again last year when she related how her sister Eleanor had likewise succumbed to an addiction to alcohol. Two bright, loving, aware people, cursed with an abnormal metabolism relative to alcohol and other mind-altering substances.

Her career has taken Cincinnati native Edie Magnus around the world. One of NBC’s news stars, the former WUBE, WEBN and WKRC-TV reporter and anchor  covered pain and pestilence, war and the weary on every continent during her remarkable career. How fateful that she and her family have such deep personal grief inflicted on them in their own backyard. 

She is now fighting back.

Edie has thrown her support and notoriety behind an organization called Shatterproof. Founded by a grief stricken father who’d lost his son to addiction. Its mission statement couldn’t be more straightforward: Shatterproof is a new national organization committed to protecting our children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease. 

On Thursday, Aug. 7th, I’m going to rappel down the side of the Westin Hotel on Fountain Square. I’m proud to be joining Edie in this effort. While a bit harrowing, it pales in comparison to the fear and anxiety associated with a life out of control.

I took a plunge 17 years ago when I had my last alcoholic drink. Here’s hoping this latest leap of faith will help others reclaim a state of mind and body they thought unattainable. At a time when more politicians are lamenting heroin’s onslaught in our country, yet willingly embrace legalization of marijuana, Shatterproof’s mission couldn’t be more compelling.

I say this with no fear of equivocation: No one starts with heroin. That’s just where it ends. Show your support by making a donation through my personal fundraising page at A donation of any amount will go a long way toward helping me hit my goal and support Shatterproof.


Dennis Janson's "My 2 cents" column is published every Monday and Wednesday on His video commentary airs every Friday at 6 p.m.

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