You’ve probably seen him in the past week. He’s the man pushing the giant Earth along Santa Rosa roadways.
Walking along Highway 90 in Milton, Erik Bendl and his dog, Nice, are far from their home in Louisville, Ky.
And it is obvious he isn’t on a leisurely stroll through town.
Bendl, 50, is pushing a 6-foot tall globe in hopes of raising awareness for diabetes. He started in Louisville last week and is heading south toward Tampa with no end goal in mind.
“I’m just going to walk until I hurt myself or need to do taxes,” Bendl said jokingly. “If I (set) an end goal I’ll end up breaking my foot or something and I won’t make it.”
This is the ninth walk Bendl and Nice, his 75 pound, 6-year-old, Blackmouth Cur, have done since 2007. They’ve walked more than 6,000 miles and have stepped foot in 38 states.
Bendl says he averages about 10 miles a day and as people pull along the side of the road, he simply explains his purpose.
“The more active you are the better you are,” he said to a man passing by on Thursday. “Why not go for a walk everyday.”
The globe was previously a game ball used in an elementary school that is now covered in canvas, patches and glue, which makes it weigh more than 80 pounds when it’s dry. Nice has become protective of the large ball and doesn’t let strangers near it often.
Bendl also has a purple van where he keeps plenty of clothing for himself and nice blankets and other necessities.
During the day he pushes the globe and as the day ends he finds his “GPS” or Good People System — strangers who drive him back to his van so he can “leapfrog” back up to the location he ended.
“I’ve only had to take a cab twice,” he said of all the walks he has done.
Although Bendl doesn’t have diabetes, he walks in honor of family members who do. The disease took his mother in 1987 at the age of 54 and his brother-in-law this past year. His uncle, who is now 85 years old, has lived with diabetes and is insulin-dependent, but has found a balance between diet and exercise to keep him going strong.
Bendl’s foundation, www.worldguy.org, has links for ways to donate to the cause through the American Diabetes Association. He also keeps a daily blog on the site to update friends, family and followers on where he is each day.
He said he hopes to make it to each of the lower 48 states, even if it takes him the next 10 years because he knows for a fact he is making a difference.
“People have told me that I am,” he said. “As long as I get a hold of one person to listen to me I’m making a difference.”
FIND OUT MORE
To learn more about Erik Bendl, visit www.worldguy.org, or go to Facebook.com and search “Erik Bendl – World Guy.”