I want to walk like John Coltrane played the sax­o­phone. I want to walk like Miles Davis played the trum­pet.Bob Scheidt

Bob Scheidt has been bat­tling the dragon of dia­betes since he was 18 years old. Now, at the age of 57 and on the cusp of a new adven­ture, Bob seeks not to slay the dragon but to har­ness its power–and maybe use that power to make the world a bet­ter place.

Hum­ble Beginnings

Bob Scheidt was raised in rural Penn­syl­va­nia, in a home sur­rounded by fields and forests. It was there that he dis­cov­ered a love of adven­ture, tak­ing nightly treks through the woods and even­tu­ally set­ting his sights on the moun­tains to the north. But beyond his lit­tle slice of wilder­ness was a much big­ger world wait­ing to be explored.

A Dev­as­tat­ing Diag­no­sis

Bob was diag­nosed with type-1 dia­betes in 1973, dur­ing the dark days of the dis­ease. There were no blood-glucose meters, mul­ti­ple daily insulin shots or insulin pumps–instead, every Sat­ur­day morn­ing, Bob trav­eled to his doctor's office to have his blood drawn for a blood glu­cose test. The fam­ily doc­tor told him bluntly that he would likely only live 25–30 more years and that most of those days would involve a tragic loss of limbs, eye­sight and kid­ney func­tion. He was also told to "take it easy" and avoid any stren­u­ous activ­i­ties that might lead to injury and infec­tion. At the age of 18, Bob now had a demor­al­iz­ing vision of a life diminished.

The Power of Optimism

It was at this point in his life that Bob dis­cov­ered that he had a very strong will and a nearly end­less sup­ply of opti­mism. After mar­ry­ing his high-school girl­friend Nancy Scheidt, he started a house-painting busi­ness in Kutz­town, PA, and spent his week­ends hik­ing the Appalachian Trail near his home. He fell in love with maps, the squig­gles of rivers and con­tours of moun­tain ranges caus­ing his pulse to quicken. He found unex­plored spots on the maps and made plans to explore them. It was also at this time that Bob stum­bled on John Goddard's "Life List" and decided that his ulti­mate life goal was to walk across the United States, an aim that kept him focused through numer­ous health com­pli­ca­tions in the years ahead.