Wisconsin man walks 20 blocks to church on his knees to express thanks

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2001

RACINE, Wis. (AP) -- In a tradition borrowed from his native Mexico, Alejandro Mendoza walked 20 blocks to church on his knees, carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary, to thank God for a life of sobriety.

Mendoza, a restaurant cook, said that God had given him the chance to change the focus of his life away from partying and alcohol.

A Mexican band led the way as Mendoza began his journey, starting uphill under a hot sun. Family members threw carpeting in his path to ease the burden on his knees. Nearly two hours into the journey, police stopped traffic as a shaking Mendoza hobbled across an intersection.

Friends offered water, but Mendoza did not stop.

As he neared Cristo Rey Parish, Mendoza picked up a little speed and then finally climbed the church steps on his knees.

Jeff Butterfield said he was moved by Mendoza's journey as a fellow recovering alcoholic. ''I barely (beat alcohol) with my faith in God,'' Butterfield said as he walked with Mendoza. Butterfield choked back tears as Mendoza's group arrived at the church.

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