We have been given a lot through the last couple of years since LivingVertical was created. During Project365 we were given couches to sleep on, ropes to dangle from, hard drives to store data, food to keep the efforts going, shoes to get up the rock, clothes to keep the elements off us, partnership that took my climbing personally to new heights, climbing protection, and a huge amount of support and faith that goes well beyond the material support.

Sounds like a lot right? It is. This is the short-list of what Rob contributed during Project365. I never had to ask. I didn’t even know I needed half of those things until he informed me that I did and gave me what I needed. He’s never taken no for an answer.

You remember Rob from Project365, right?
climbing moonlight buttress zion national park

We lived off his couch in Zion for weeks.
springdale utah rock climbing vacation

Climbed with him for many days.
rock climbing in zion national park

And gave back to the community with him at our SweetestSummit camp a year later.
sweetestsummit diabetes camp

And the other day, we finally had a chance to reciprocate, even if it was just a little token; it was great having Rob in town (Boston) and on OUR couch for a change!
this is couch surfing

It feels good to give back. I always feel like I haven’t done enough though. I’m not fishing for pats on the back and “atta boys”. I have gotten my share of emails and messages that are similar to this one. I know that there are people out there who need to hear that their life with Diabetes doesn’t have to be about Diabetes–it can be about LIFE. I just feel like we have only begun scratching the surface.

But how do you advocate for people with Diabetes when your message isn’t ABOUT Diabetes. Its about seeing and going BEYOND Diabetes. It’s crazy right? Look how many times I just typed Diabetes there! So what do we have to give back (I ask myself this a lot)? I love to write and speak–but honestly, it’s much bigger than words. It’s action. It’s vision. Now do you see why we are using adventure filmmaking and imagery to empower people with Diabetes?

People with diabetes need to see our/themselves portrayed in the public eye as something other than commercial actors or sick people misrepresented by sitcom writers–whose only knowledge of diabetes is the drug commercials that run during the break. That shapes how people see themselves and how others see them. I’ve seen a lot of outrage when people see someone on TV say “Oh eating all that (insert sugary food here) is going to give you diabetes”. Asking for apologies after the fact won’t change that ignorance. SHOWING people the real deal in a way that is exciting and can reach OUTSIDE the diabetes community is.

Normal people with diabetes doing extraordinary things in extreme places. Making history. Yeah, it’s true–but I’m going to detail that claim in another blog. This project is going to be a big step up visually from what you have seen so far from the LivingVertical creative side. I’d like to point out that prior to my founding LivingVertical in 2011, I had not shot and edited images or video at all, let alone created a documentary. Project365 was a practice run in many ways—creatively speaking.

Now we have better equipment and most importantly, a much greater understanding of visual story telling. I have a vision. Shots I want to get, a story that I know I want to tell about inspiring and truly badass people with diabetes. I also know that there are stories in there that I haven’t even discovered yet and when you combine all of that–it is going to make you proud to have had a hand in creating it.

Because without you, without your vision, it will remain a dream in my head, whispered about in this blog and those stories won’t reach the people who need to know that their life doesn’t end with a diabetes diagnosis.

Ideals aside, it’s going to involve a LOT of bitchin’ timelapse footage that will BLOW this stuff away and that’s no exaggeration.