Walking with the world for diabetes awareness
By: JEAN L. KAESS
Erik Bendl and Nice have the world on a string.
They — a man and his dog — have walked through 33 states with their 6-foot in-flated globe to raise aware-ness of diabetes. Thursday, they were in Patterson as they made their Gulf Coast trek.
Bendl lost his mother to diabetes at the age of 54. The Kentucky resident started his journey in 2007 to both honor her memory and to remind everyone that they should care for themselves by going for a walk.
The pair has walked eve-rywhere from Pikes Peak in Colorado to Mount Washing-ton, N.H., where they were very nearly blown off the mountain. The highest land wind speeds ever were re-corded there, and on the night Bendl and Nice were on the mountain, the wind was blowing at about 70 mph. Needless to say, they didn’t make it to the top of the mountain on that particular evening.
Bendl accomplishes his quests in spurts. His first was for his uncle’s 80th birthday during which he hiked from Louisville, Ky., to Pittsburgh. Bendl’s uncle, who is alive, and grand-mother, who is deceased, also developed diabetes. To date, he has not developed the disease, which can have a genetic component.
Nice, whom Bendl describes simply as a “brown dog” when asked what breed he is, has walked with the world since he was six months old. He, Bendl and the world are a pack. In fact, if you approach the globe to inspect it, Nice will gently nudge you away as if to say, “Hey, this is my ball. You can’t play with it.”
He has walked every one of the over 4,000 miles with Bendl on their treks. Four thousand miles. That’s when Bendl stopped counting the miles and just started counting the states.
The current trek, their sixth, began in Seminole, Ala., Jan. 11 and the group is heading toward Texas along U.S. 90 “until the ride is over,” Bendl said. That likely will be somewhere in Texas.
In April, Bendl will head back home to Louisville, Ky., to take care of the taxes for his non-profit foundation, which benefits the American Diabetes Association. Then, he and Nice will head some-where north. They don’t care to walk in hot weather.
Until then, continue to watch for the man, his dog and their “world on a string.”
Follow Bendl’s travels or contact him via his blog at www.worldguy.org.