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_DSC7313At 20-years-old and having just finished community college, John Bendewald kicked off a 1,000 mile trek through three states and rode to Racine Thursday afternoon with 30 miles left on his bicycle ride.

He wanted a journey. He wanted to find himself. And on that journey he wanted to help others by raising money for Habitat for Humanity affiliates. The non-profit organization helps build new houses for families. He called his journey: 1,000 Miles For Humanity.

The lanky, quick to smile man from Skokie, Illinois had started his journey in mid-May and he rode his used bicycle all the way to Duluth, Minnesota.

“It was more challenging than I originally thought,” he said. “It took a lot of willpower… through the hills, the bad weather, the sore legs. I realized before I left that I would have to try 100 percent of the time on this.”

When things got difficult, Bendewald found himself thinking of that commitment a lot to get him through those times.

What also helped was the support he got along the way. He’s been raising money online and collecting donations for Habitat Humanity at each community he stops at and then he also performs magic tricks as well. So far online he’s raised $4,000 and has another $1,000 in cash and checks, he said.

The stop in Racine was no different. He pulled into Monument Square as volunteers from Racine Habitat for Humanity welcomed him to the community. Racine Mayor John Dickert issued a proclamation that June 4 become Racine Habitat for Humanity Day, and then he started doing his magic tricks.

He met up with LeAnn Launstein, executive director for the Racine Habitat for Humanity, and a number of volunteers for a small celebration.

“We’ve been in Racine for 27 years and we just sold our 83rd home,” Launstein said. “And we’re very busy building seven more houses, which are now under construction.”

Bendewald loves the mission of Habitat for Humanity. But on a personal level, what did Bendewald’s journey get him?

“I’m a lot more confident now,” he said with a smile.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.