By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN With a job loss, diabetes, and leg amputation, Waverly resident Al Pudlitzke hasn’t had the easiest life recently.
You won’t hear him complaining, though.
“His spirits are amazing,” according to Mary Streich of Howard Lake. “For what he’s had to deal with, it’s incredible.”
Bruce Arnold, one of Pudlitzke’s best friends, describes Pudlitzke as a generous, selfless man who shies away from attention.
“He’s the nicest guy in the world,” Arnold said.
Pudlitzke’s friends have organized a bike/car run for Saturday, Sept. 11, to help with Pudlitzke’s medical expenses.
Riders are asked to be at the Howard Lake Legion at 9:30 a.m. The 150-mile journey will include stops at Henderson, Nicollet, and Stewart, and will end back at the Howard Lake Legion between 4 and 5 p.m.
The cost is $15 per driver, and $10 per passenger. Food and door prizes, donated by the Howard Lake Legion, will be given away after the run. Participants will also receive can coolies, bandannas, and beads.
“It’s our way of showing appreciation,” Streich said.
Josh Kleve of Howard Lake and Rodney Scherping of Winsted (owner of Crow River Harley Davidson in Delano) have put forth a great deal of effort to make the bike run a success, according to Streich.
“We’re very grateful,” she said.
Bikers will be required to sign a waiver before they ride. Wrist bands will be provided, and they must be kept on during the entire event.
Anyone who can’t make it to the bike run will have another opportunity to help Pudlitzke, during a benefit set for Saturday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. at Waverly Village Hall.
So far, a huge silent auction, a bake sale, and live music are planned.
“We are looking for donations,” Streich said.
Pudlitzke, who grew up in the Howard Lake/Waverly area, is well known for his humble attitude. Although he never asked for help, countless friends have stepped in, eager for their chance to give back.
“He doesn’t want anybody to feel sorry for him,” Arnold said. “He’s so quiet and shy, and he doesn’t want any publicity.”
Pudlitzke would never ask for donations on his own, but friends know that he could use the help.
A couple of years ago, Pudlitzke was laid off from his job as a surveyor.
“The economy gets you eventually,” Arnold said.
In addition to financial insecurity, Pudlitzke has been suffering from diabetes for years. Arnold said he thinks the disease didn’t have a huge impact on Pudlitzke’s life until recently.
“We wouldn’t know anyway, because he wouldn’t tell us,” Arnold said. “He would never let on that something was wrong.”
When a diabetes-caused infection caused doctors to recommend a leg amputation for Pudlitzke, there was no denying the implications, however.
“I went to the hospital to see him the day he was told they were going to amputate,” Arnold said. “It was a devastating day for both of us.”
The surgery took place about seven weeks ago, and since then, Pudlitzke has been making steady progress.
“It’s amazing, for losing his leg, how fast he’s recovered,” Arnold said.
“He’s quite strong,” Streich added.
He’s using crutches and a wheelchair now, but will eventually be fitted for a prosthetic leg.
“Hopefully he’ll make a full recovery and be able to walk again,” Arnold said. “He likes to be active and likes to be outside.”
Pudlitzke has been known to cut wood and haul loads to people’s houses for free.
“That’s the kind of guy Al is,” Arnold said.
In the winter, Arnold said he has come home many times to find the snow plowed off his driveway.
“He’ll never admit that he does it,” Arnold said. “But, you know it was him.”
Arnold and Pudlitzke have been friends since they were children.
“He is five years older than I am, and was like a big brother to me,” Arnold said. “He’s always looked out for me and took care of me, and I’m trying to return the favor.”
The theme for Pudlitzke’s benefit and bike run is “Lean on me.” T-shirts and other items with the “Lean on me” slogan are available for purchase.
“When we called and asked him if it was OK, he just laughed about it,” Arnold said.
Pudlitzke has “always been a positive guy,” and the amputation hasn’t changed that fact, according to Arnold.
“Some people would get really depressed if this happened, but Al’s attitude has been to just get through it and move on,” Arnold said.
For more information about the bike run, or to donate items for the benefit, contact Bruce Arnold at (320) 224-6994, Jill Doering at (763) 658-4206, or Mary Streich at (763) 647-9940.