CRESTVIEW Randolph Westphal wants people to know they should never give up.


CRESTVIEW Randolph Westphal wants people to know they should never give up.



The 55-year-old German who passed through Crestview this week bicycles through several countries, with help from his Siberian husky dogs, Chinook and Nanook, to prove there's always hope.



He should know; doctors diagnosed him with malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, in 1987. Since then, he has received 28 cancer-related surgeries; four were life threatening. On top of that, a 1996 hit-and-run nearly took his left leg and he had to use a wheelchair for a year. And he was hospitalized in August with a bacterial infection.



But all adversity fades quickly in the past when it's possible for Westphal to get back on the bike. He brings a message of endurance with people in cancer support groups, hospitals and universities.



"I just tell them my story," he said. "A lot of people find hope in a good story."  



Westphal purchased a car to assist in his travels, under doctor's advice. However, it has not deterred him from his life's mission: to raise worldwide awareness of perseverance.



The Quality Inn hotel, near the Interstate 10 exit in Crestview, provided a free room Monday night for Westphal and his 8- and 10-year-old dogs. Westphal said he lives on donations from people he meets.



Offering a complimentary room is highly irregular at the hotel, Quality Inn general manager Teresa Davis said.



However, "it was something that I felt like I needed to do," she said. "If I was in a similar situation, I would hope that I would have the same amount of determination he has shown."



Most people would be discouraged after learning that they have a terminal form of cancer, she said.   



"He has a strong will," she said.



Westphal plans to travel through south Florida, with stops in Panama City, Tallahassee, Tampa and Key West, before heading back to Canada.



Email News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown, follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.