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The shirt of the 26-year-old UNC graduate student reads, "El paciente no es apto para la practica del alpinismo," which translates to, "The patient is not fit for the practice of mountaineering."

Ackerman laughs as he explains that the quote is the "ironic inspiration" for his upcoming journey.

Ackerman, a diabetic, is a founding member of International Diabetic Expedition to Aconcagua 2000, a group of diabetics that at the end of the month will scale the tallest peak in the western hemisphere, the 22,834-foot Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina.

The shirt's quote, taken from the medical chart of a fellow diabetic, only fuels Ackerman's desire to prove to the world that diabetics are just as capable as everyone else.

"It's great to have a group of diabetics visibly trying to do something they were told they can't do," he said.

Ackerman and the 40-member group hope to inspire all diabetics through extreme athletic activity.

IDEA2000 also aspires to raise money to help fund medical research for diabetes and provide medicines to those who cannot afford it.

The organization is being sponsored for the climb, through which it hopes to raise $2,000,000 to benefit Latin American diabetes charity groups. Ackerman has already raised nearly $2,000 through his personal efforts.

"This will have a major impact, and I hope (the groups) can expand their current services," he said.

Ackerman said he is glad to participate even though he hasn't had much climbing experience.

"It is fortuitous. The mountain is doable by people not very experienced in climbing. Getting to the top is an obvious breakthrough and achievement," he said.

Ackerman, an M.D. and P.h.D. candidate, is interested in the upcoming climb in Argentina for many reasons.

Besides his personal goal of ascending the mountain to 18,000 feet, he is looking forward to researching the interaction of diabetes and high altitudes.

While many would consider scaling the tallest mountain this side of the world an extraordinary effort, Ackerman also dedicates his time to educating the public about diabetes - a service he began when he was a teen.

When Ackerman was diagnosed at age 15 with juvenile diabetes, he was leading an active lifestyle, participating in Boy Scouts and other outdoor activities. He vowed to not let diabetes change his life in a negative way.

"My drive comes from stories I heard about diabetics being told they can't do things," he said. "When people tell me they were told they couldn't play contact sports it really ticks me off."

Ackerman has counseled peers, made speeches and worked with parents of diabetics. He also volunteers his medical services at Camp Carolina Trails, a camp for diabetic children.

"It's really great for me and the kids," Ackerman said.

"They realize that other people are going through the same thing. It reinforces my will to continuing taking care of myself."

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