Years with T1D: 15
Age of Diagnosis: 16
From: Virgin, UT
Years Climbing: 7
Ever since I was a little kid, growing up in upstate New York, I dreamed of climbing mountains. What my locale lacked in topography I substituted with tree climbing – always imagining myself “way out there” on some epic rock face. My father was an iron worker who built sky scrapers in New York City and I think climbing things was a connection we shared even though he is still awaiting the day that I hang up my rope and rack in favor of a “real job and a haircut”. I was never very motivated and when I could take the easy way out of any type of physical activity, I did.
Then one day, when I was a 16 year-old sophomore in high school, the option of taking the easy way vanished and I became a type 1 diabetic. In a flash I began to realize that the luxury of postponing “life” was an illusion that I could not afford to buy into any longer. I knew that unless I began pushing back hard against the conventional wisdom of what life with diabetes should look like, that I would be trapped in a world of fear, trying to just survive the complications I kept hearing and reading about while living life to the bare minimum.
Climbing is a universal symbol of freedom, personal responsibility and self reliance. I embraced climbing fully-not only because I wanted to climb, but because I wanted to show myself that I could take control of my life and that diabetes would NOT limit me. In 2012, after pursuing this way of life for about 14 years, I decided to found LivingVertical and take on Project365 – selling all my “stuff” to live on the road and climb every single day across North America for a year. My hope was to share a message of empowerment with others who live with T1D while revolutionizing the way that the public sees this “invisible” illness.
Through LivingVertical I have met many incredible people who live with diabetes and pursue adventure and challenge rather than backing away from it, and I am privileged to be a part of this team that is empowering and inspiring the diabetes community every day by bringing diabetes into the vertical world.
Steve Richert will be the keynote speaker at our upcoming TypeOneNation events on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf and on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at the Providence Biltmore. He is the founder of LivingVertical, a diabetes advocacy organization that is committed to showing people living with diabetes a new perception of diabetes and its limitations. To learn more: http://livingvertical.org.