EAST TEXAS (KTRE) – Motorists driving along Highway 69 South near Huntington could not help but notice Eric Bendl pushing his 6-ft, 80-lb inflatable globe. Bendl is walking across East Texas in the name of diabetes awareness.
Over the past 5 years he has walked in 34 states, over 4,000 miles, on trips lasting from 2 to 5 months at a time. His dog, Nice, has been at his side for every trip. "This is my 6th walk for diabetes. I left Seminole, Alabama on the 11th of January and I walked across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana," said Bendl.
Bendl said he crossed into the Lone Star state through Orange. He made it to Huntington on Thursday. In his latest blog at world guy.org he writes, "The rainy weather may keep us here in Huntington for the weekend. I have until mid-April to get to Dallas barring some unforeseen issue that would have me stop early."
He is certainly gaining a lot of attention. "I hope to be an example to people that if I can push an 80 pound ball, walking an 80 pound dog, carrying a backpack, over hill and dale through ditches in wind and rain that they might be able to go out and be active everyday walking a mile, or just do something to get their juices flowing so they can prevent or control or keep diabetes away."
According to statistics, more than 18.2 million people, or 6.3 percent of the population, in the United States have diabetes.
"I lost my mom to diabetes. She was 54 years old. She was a state representative in Kentucky and she did a lot of good. I guess it wore off on me. Her brother on the other hand, who got diabetes in his 40ies, is now 84 and he's there for his grandchildren. I have a 20 year old son that my mother never saw because she wasn't able to keep her condition under control," said Bendl.
Experts say a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, proper diet and maintaining a proper weight can help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
Bendl hopes his journey will help save someone else's loved one. "Love yourself, go for a walk, walk with those that you care for and prevent, control and turn diabetes around." He said he will likely choose a northern state that he hasn't 'stepped foot in or walked across' for his next trip.
You can keep up with his adventures at worldguy.org.