Currently on his way to St. Louis, MO. Erik is walking to earn money for diabetes awareness. He does this selfless act 7 miles a day! He is taking a personal walk of faith that most of us only dream about doing. Erik is walking across the US to show support of those who have diabetes or who have loved ones who have suffered from the disease. He is raising money for the American Diabetes Association.
I had the pleasure of meeting Erik in the Crossroads Community Hospital parking lot Thursday, June 18. There he was standing with a big smile on his face with his dog and the large 6 foot tall world ball! He was invited by Dick Jones to attend the Mt. Vernon diabetic advocates meeting at the hospital, when he kindly took some time to speak with me.
Standing on the hot pavement with the sun glaring down, he looks up and says “I need my hat, I forgot it at the hotel, I feel naked with out it”, then laughed. I drove Erik to the hotel so he could grab his favorite hat and on the way there he took me into his world and told me all about his journey. Erik’s mother had diabetes and died years ago. Losing his mother to the disease had a huge impact on his life. When I asked him what people could do to take better care of themselves he suggested, “People with and without diabetes need to count their calories, check their blood sugar and exercise regularly in order to stay healthy. I have seen the looks on people’s faces who have lost their loved ones to diabetes, and it’s not pretty. People need to take better care of them selves so they are around for their loved ones. The key to good health is exercising.”
When asked if he had any special goals for this trip and when will the
journey end, he calmly replied, “This is my spiritual journey. I don’t worry
about where I am going, or when I get there. When I get there, I’ll know. I
am taking one day at a time. I have great faith and that’s all I need.
People are so good, they bring me food and right after they ask how they can
help me, but without realizing that they just did. That’s the neatest thing
about this trip, when I need something, help always appears. People just
give what they can at the right moment. I’m thankful for that. To answer
your 2nd question I don’t have a time frame set or a time goal. Everyday is
a different day, I never know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing next.”
Erik has had quite the adventure so far, from getting half of his finger bitten off to meeting all kinds of people with different backgrounds. A wandering dog was curious about Nice and started growling and before he knew it, his finger was laying on the ground. Erik said calmness washed over him that day. He didn’t realize it was half gone until he looked down and noticed the dog handling the other half. He took several weeks to heal and got back on the journey with a new sense of peace. His finger has since healed very nicely.
Left to right: Dick Jones, dog "Nice", and Erik Bendl.
He and his dog walk, rain or shine. “I have an air pump, a tent, and just the basics. I have everything I need, extra socks, and now another pair of shoes. When we need rest, we set up camp and rest. When we are hungry, we eat and when we thirst, we have plenty of water supplies in my bag and people are always giving me bottled water”.
“When we need things, they really do appear. An example of that is when we were walking on 15 from Bluford when we came across Cactus Jacks. The food was great! He kept bringing us food, pork, chicken, and beef. We stayed in the tree house to rest for the remainder of the day and all night. They were great people, we enjoyed our stay there.”
While I was taking photos of Erik, the world and his dog, a woman walked up and handed him money to be donated to the American Diabetes Association. Everywhere he goes he draws crowds. It such a beautiful thing to see how humble and caring he was to each person who thanked him for what he was doing and how patient he was with people who asked the same questions I’m sure he’s heard over and over again. What an awesome and inspirational thing he is doing. It’s amazing to meet someone who cares so much about the lives of other people.
I am glad I had the pleasure of meeting Erik and his
dog. I will keep in touch with them and plan to interview him again in the
Erik writes in his online blog everyday from his blackberry so that others may read his daily adventures. Follow his online journal, view World Guy Blog. You can leave Erik comments, email him or just read his blog entries and view photos.
Make a donation to the American Diabetes Association.
- Jackie Price/MVN Webmaster