Ed Rapp: In His Own Words

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A man, who devoted his life to Caterpillar and successfully climbed the corporate ladder, suddenly finds his entire life changed in a single moment.


Ed Rapp is more than a group president of Caterpillar, he also is a personal friend and a former neighbor.

He agreed to sit down with WMBD’s Bob Larson at The Caterpillar Visitors Center to discuss his life, his career and more importantly his new challenge in life.

Ed Rapp had it all, a successful businessman, a loving husband, father, and grandfather and then last November, his life changed forever.

Ed, who I have personally known for over 30 years, got some devastating news.

Ed, who always took pride in keeping in great physical shape started noticing a problem over a year ago.

“It actually was Christmas of 2014, back to our days in the neighborhood. I’ve been a 3-4 miles a day runner for almost 40 years now and I was out jogging with our son, Jay, and really, it started with noticing a foot drag about every 10-15 steps. It happened the first day we ran together. It happened the second day we ran together. Between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve always made the kids do New Year’s resolutions and so while we were sitting down updating them, they said ok, one of yours is to get to the bottom of this,” Rapp explains.

Doctors here suggest Ed head to Mayo Clinic.

“In early November, Ann and I head up there, go through three days of tests. I really had no clue as to what we were up against. Then we get to the end of the discussion, the doctor pulls us in and says, ‘you have ALS,'” says Rapp.

Rapp, who had traveled the world for Caterpillar and attained the title of group president, suddenly had to make some very difficult decisions. One of the biggest decisions, besides taking early retirement, was does he just fight the disease or get involved actively to help others?

“After considerable thought and prayer, we just decided that this company has allowed me to meet people around the world, see things around the world, to learn how to problem solve, learn a lot of things and we just decided that perhaps part of the calling or the challenge here is for me to take what I’ve learned from this company and apply it to a new problem and that is really helping those who are trying to find a cure.”

 Ed, who turns 59-years-old in March, says he has no regrets about his life or career.

Rapp started a charitable fund for anyone interested in donating.

Caterpillar made a big donation to the fight against ALS.

The Caterpillar Foundation donated $2 million.

If you want to help in the fight against ALS, head to Rapp’s website here.

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