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Erik Bendl, aka the World Guy, rolled his big-ball world through Black Mountain on June 11 to promote diabetes awareness. Nearly everyone he walked by asked him what he was doing.

He told them he wanted them to know that regular exercise can keep diabetes at bay. He lost his mother to complications from the disease in 1987. She was only 54. Pushing a giant globe he painted on a giant play ball, he started walking in the late 1990s to promote the benefits of walking.

Bendl has walked more than 6,000 miles on 14 long tours of the country, he estimates. “I quit keeping track of the mileage,” he said as he reached the crest of State Street in downtown Black Mountain.

Walking from Nashville to Asheville (“I overshot the mark, but I heard about Black Mountain,” he said), Bendl smiled at everyone who stopped him to talk. “Love yourself, go for a walk,” he told them, in those or so many words.

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