Our Story

I’m Stephen Richert and in 2011 I founded LivingVertical along with my wife Stefanie. We had no idea what it would become or how it would change our lives—or how many people it would impact. We just knew that living with diabetes seemed to represent something really negative for most people—and we wanted to change that.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999 at the age of 16 and while it’s been a massive challenge that never goes away, it’s been a constant motivator for me to try harder and go further. My diagnosis is what led me to pursue my passion of climbing and photography in the mountains—because frankly I was afraid that if I waited, I might not survive the ravages of diabetes. Diabetes has given me a lot of gifts through the years of struggle.

I decided to share that vision through climbing projects and films which started with Project365, a year-long climbing journey across North America to prove that people with diabetes can do anything—and that we are not helpless victims, stranded without a cure. Stefanie and I left our home, sold all of our stuff and lived out of a car. We learned to create images and share them—and I climbed every single day with no days off for an entire year.

None of the climbing during Project365 was really hard and most of it wasn’t spectacular. It was an exercise in determination, just like living with diabetes. The adventure became normal for us and sharing that journey helped us reach millions of people online and through television interviews. To this day, I am very proud of this project as our genesis because it was from the heart and funded by friends and family. That has set the tone for everything we do through LivingVertical.

Today we have completed several other projects and films, each rooted in the idea of embracing challenges of diabetes through adventure. We are continuing to reach more people with this message of empowerment and facilitating meet-ups to take the online discussion into the real world.

Our Mission

Is to deconstruct diabetes through adventure. We want to change the way you think about living with this chronic illness and provide information and inspiration to go anywhere with diabetes—confidently.

Our Values

  • We believe that a cure tomorrow is not more important than being healthy today.
  • We believe that living in fear is no way to live.
  • We believe that no one should live with shame or isolation due to diabetes.
  • We believe that action is the key to thriving with diabetes—or without it.

Our Goals

  • Promote adventure as a key component of life with chronic illness
  • Support the active diabetes community through multimedia content
  • Share dietary and lifestyle strategies that can reduce the limitations ofdiabetes
  • Create films and adventure projects to raise positive awareness for diabetes