Greg Mortenson was born in 1957 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. From 1958 - 1973, he lived on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania where his father, Dempsey, co-founded the teaching hospital, Kilimanjaro Christian medical Center (KCMC), and where his mother, Jerene, founded the International School Moshi. After serving in the U.S. Army in Germany from 1977 - 1979, Mortenson graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1983 with an Associate Degree in Nursing and a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry. He is the co-founder of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute and founder of Pennies for Peace, and is the co-author of the #1 New York Times best-seller, Three Cups of Tea, which has won several awards including Time Magazine's Asia Book of the Year. Mortenson is a humanitarian and has dedicated his life to promote education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he has established over 78 schools. In 2009, Pakistan's government awarded Mortenson Pakistan's highest civil award, the Sitara-e-Pakistan ("Star of Pakistan"). Mortenson has received many other awards including National Award for Citizen Diplomacy in 2008, Rotary International Paul Harris Award in 2007, and Red Cross (Montana) "Humanitarian of the Year" in 2005. As of 2009, Mortenson has also received 10 honorary doctorates. Mortenson is married to Dr. Tara Bishop, a clinical psychologist. They have two children.
David Oliver Relin was born in Rochester, New York on December 12, 1962. He graduated from Vassar College in 1985, and was later awarded a fellowship at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. In the 1990s, he established himself as a journalist with an interest in telling stories about people in need including articles about child soldiers and about his travels in Vietnam. He was the co-author of Three Cups of Tea with Greg Mortenson, which was published in 2006. In 2011, basic facts in the book were questioned by author Jon Krakauer and the CBS News program 60 Minutes. 60 Minutes also discovered that Mortenson's charity was spending large amounts of money on Mortenson's personal expenses and to promote the book. This caused Relin to suffer both emotionally and financially. He did not speak publicly about the charges, but he hired a lawyer to defend himself in a federal lawsuit that accused the authors and the publisher of defrauding readers. The suit was dismissed in 2012. He suffered from depression and committed suicide on November 15, 2012 at the age of 49. His book Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives was published in 2013 after his death.