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.
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.