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Rock climber uses experience to deliver hope to others with diabetes
by LaTria Garnigan
lgarnigan@neighbornewspapears.com
August 02, 2012 05:18 PM | 2954 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steve Richert, left, shows Joe Lashinsky, 15, son of Susan and Dan Lashinsky, of Dunwoody, how to tie in before climbing the rock wall.
Steve Richert, left, shows Joe Lashinsky, 15, son of Susan and Dan Lashinsky, of Dunwoody, how to tie in before climbing the rock wall.
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Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 13 years ago at the age of 16, Steve Richert vowed to not let his illness get in the way of living his life to the fullest.

Richert is in the midst of his 365-Day Climbing Challenge, used as a tool to empower and encourage others with diabetes to recognize that anything is possible with good management and control over blood sugar on a day-to-day basis.

The project involves him rock-climbing each day where he experiences extreme weather conditions and challenges all while managing a serious chronic illness.

Last week, he stopped in Atlanta at the Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center, where he talked about Project 365 and also gave a climbing clinic, which included local youth.

Sixteen-year-old Joe Lashinsky, of Dunwoody, attended the clinic and took Richert’s message to heart.

“What Steve is doing is amazing, speaking as a fellow Type 1 diabetic, I cannot believe it,” said Lashinsky. “I don’t think I’m anywhere near there. Anyone who pioneers new activities like this is a hero in my book. Really cool experience.”

Richert, left his career as a professor at the community college in New York State to fully immerse himself in Living Vertical, a nonprofit he co-founded along with his wife Stefanie to drive home his message of empowerment.

“I decided to leave that position and sell everything that I had that wasn’t related directly to climbing and live out of my car to film this project and take it on fully and really commit to it,” he said. “There are definitely sacrifices involved going into this project but you know there are sacrifices involved in anything worth doing so having high commitment is also important.”

At his stop in Atlanta, Richert was on day 191 of his project, with his next stop being New York via Indianapolis.

On doing the challenge, Richert said he wanted to offer a look into his perspective each day on climbing and maintaining his diabetes.

“For example on a day-to-day basis when I’m climbing, my life is centered on making sure my blood glucose is in check and under control,” he said. “I test my sugar with the ACCU-CHEK Nano meter, which the name indicates is fairly small and really fits well with the lifestyle that I have.”

Richert added what he really wanted to share with others is to use the right tools and keep a positive attitude – that is the only way to really pursue the things that are important.

Once the project is complete, Richert said his next goal is to see about having the footage he has taken throughout his adventure made into a documentary. The documentary would be shared with others dealing with diabetes in local schools and hospitals, to inspire and give a message of hope.

Information: to learn more about Living Vertical and Project 365, visit www.livingvertical.org. Richert has a blog, video and ways to donate.
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