Erik Bendl has got the whole world in his hands — literally.
Bendl is taking a 550-mile walk from his hometown of Louisville, Ky., to Kansas City to raise money and awareness for diabetes. He is traveling with a 6-foot-tall inflatable globe and his pit bull mix dog named Nice.
“I’ve been meandering like a river,” Bendl said.
Bendl began walking on May 2. He averages between eight and 10 miles per day, depending on the weather.
Bendl’s journey began after his mother died from diabetes when she was 54. Bendl is self-employed and said walking through the Midwest is a great way to spread awareness about diabetes.
“I’m promoting exercise and health to prevent and control diabetes,” Bendl said.
Bendl has other family members who are living with diabetes and said that through diet and exercise, people can control diabetes.
“My goal is more to get people to exercise than raise money,” Bendl said.
In the first 10 days of his journey, he raised $2,700. He has traveled through Indiana and Illinois and is now making his way through Missouri.
“It’s painful. It’s not easy and it’s not a walk in the park,” Bendl said.
Less than a month into traveling, Bendl saw the not-so-nice side of his dog. Bendl and Nice stayed at a farm where another dog was roaming around. The two dogs got into a fight and Bendl tried to break it up. He lost the top part of his middle finger and spent three weeks recovering.
“We’ve had good times and bad times,” Bendl said.
In 2007, Bendl made the walk from Louisville to Pittsburgh. He said so far he has been relying on his GPS, or “good people system.” People have been making donations, letting him stay at their home and offering him money for meals.
He carries a small bag filled with snacks and water and a support van driven by good people along the way is left for him if needed in nearby cities.
“Yes, I do believe I am making a difference,” he said.
Toby Tiner, of Troy, Kan., stopped Thursday along westbound Highway 50 west of St. Martins to see why a man was pushing a globe along the highway.
“That’s awesome,” Tiner said.
Tiner is doing mission work near Tipton and wanted to get a photo with the globe. He said Bendl is an inspiration for people with diabetes.
“We will be praying for you,” Tiner said to Bendl. “You’re brave.”
Bendl will be walking through Sedalia within the next four to five days. Anyone wanting to make a donation can stop him on the road or visit worldguy.org, where he also keeps a daily blog.
“My plan is to do more of these as time goes on,” Bendl said.
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