Kentucky Man Walks Across Florida To Raise Diabetes Awareness

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For the past decade Erik Bendl and his dog, Nice, have been walking the country, with a giant globe, to bring attention to the fight against diabetes.

"Over the years we have walked, my dog and i have walked over six thousand miles during nine separate walks" said Bendl.

Those nine walks have taken him across the country.

"I've walked from Washington DC to Maine. Kentucky to Kansas. Louisville to Pittsburg. From South Florida to North Carolina" said Bendl.

He's met hundreds of people with stories of their own battles against the disease.

"I met an Indian woman in South Dakota who had been diagnosed with diabetes. Lost thirty pounds and she said after walking for just two days after losing her thirty pounds she could feel her feet again. She was as happy as a school girl" said Bendl.

The globe represents the fight against diabetes worldwide. But Bendl's experience with the disease isn't just the stories he's heard on the road.
Diabetes has had a profound effect on some of his own family members.

"My mother passed away early at the age of fifty-four. I've lost other family members to the disease and I’m thinking for my own health, if I walk every day, I can help keep it away" said Bendl.

He says being able to help strangers brings some closure to the loss of those close. While the scenery of Erik Bendl's journeys may change, his purpose for walking hasn't.

"My message is walk for diabetes control and prevention. Basically like I said take care of yourself, be good to yourself, love yourself. Go for a walk, walk with somebody you care for to help manage diabetes or prevent the onset of diabetes" said Bendl.

After his brother-in-law died of diabetes complications, Bendl say his sister lost more than 30-pounds, saying she wanted to make sure she's around to see her kids grow up.