Bess Cohn Humanitarian Award Nominee - Tell It on the Mountain

Meet Andy Krupp

Andy KruppAndy Krupp has plans to climb a famous peak to benefit Diabetes research.

In August 2012, Katy McGregor, a young girl from Illinois, came home from summer camp ready to start the new school year. But something wasn't right. In the short time she had been away, she lost 20 pounds. Her parents immediately took her to see a doctor, and, after rounds of testing, received difficult news: Katy had Juvenile, or Type 1, Diabetes. Her life would never be the same.

"It's a constant struggle – every meal and activity has to be regulated and analyzed to keep her blood sugar in a certain range," says her uncle Andy Krupp, managing director of FlagMaster (asi/82590), a family-owned supplier of flags, banners, and indoor/outdoor displays. "For example, before she gets in the pool and when she gets out, she has to test her blood. She has to account for every cracker, every lollipop she consumes. Every moment of her life has been taken over."

Katy recently went on a school trip and her mother accompanied the group solely to take care of her. "She has to be woken up several times each night to check her blood sugar," says Krupp.

"And we're told this is one of the most rudimentary cases. There's nothing she could have done differently. Her pancreas simply doesn't produce insulin."

Now that this childhood disease has hit close to home, Krupp has decided to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) with an individual climb up Mount Kilimanjaro in late November. About 10,000 people attempt to reach the summit at 19,341 feet each year, and only about half succeed. "I'd like to reach the summit, but I'm not willing to die!" Krupp laughs. "Actually, 30 to 50 people die doing this each year, mostly from altitude sickness. Your lungs fill with fluid and the only thing you can do is turn around and run straight back down the mountain."

The challenge with altitude sickness is that climbers can't predict with accuracy if it will affect them or not. "You either get it or you don't," Krupp explains. "You can't train it out of yourself. Actually, they say people in the worst shape are less prone to it because they walk more slowly. If you walk fast, your body doesn't acclimate."

Krupp can expect five days of climbing on foot to reach the summit, and a series of makeshift huts along the way to rest. He'll bring along a guide, porter and gear. "We'll actually be hiking through four climate zones, from the equator all the way to -20 degrees," he says. "So I have to bring gear for all the climates. The last day is the hardest – you have to wake up at midnight to reach the summit by daylight."

Exotic locales aren't new to Krupp. When traveling, he prefers taking the not-so-beaten track during what he calls "personal challenge trips." He has hiked Peru's Inca Trail to Macchu Pichu at 14,000 feet and has gone on several "voluntours," which combine sightseeing with volunteer work in far-flung locales. "About five or six years ago I went to Cambodia with GlobeAware," he says. "During the day we built wheelchairs out of bike tires and lawn chairs for landmine victims, and in the evenings we taught English at a local school. Last year, I hiked the Himalayas in Nepal, close to Poon Hill. It took us a week, and we just kept climbing from one little mountain town to the next."

For now, Krupp has two main goals: to raise money for JDRF and to focus on making it to the Kilimanjaro summit, just once. "No one does this twice," he laughs. "Believe me, no one pays to torture themselves again. From now until November, the only training I'll be doing is some biking or kayaking, which I do anyway. I don't want to run up the mountain."

To donate to the JDRF Kili for Katy cause through December 1, visit