EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A man who played a huge part in honoring the victims of the August 3 shooting now does not have much time left, himself.
Greg Zanis, the Chicago man who traveled 1,500 miles the day after the Walmart shooting to honor victims and help move El Paso toward healing, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, according to his family.
Zanis is the founder of “Crosses for Losses.” Through Crosses for Losses, Zanis delivers handmade wooden crosses to mass shooting sites.
Zanis got started back in 1999 after the Columbine High School shooting. Since then, he has created and delivered more than 26,000 memorials at sites all across the U.S. Those include locations of mass violence, tornadoes, fires, and crashes.
When Zanis arrived at the Walmart memorial just nine months ago, he was asked why he does what he does. He told KTSM he doesn’t make the crosses for political reasons; he does it to remember the victims. “These are angels, because they’ve been murdered, and they’re gone, unanticipated death,” said Greg Zanis, who made the 1,500-mile trip with at least 20 crosses in his truck. He later had to have two added to the Walmart memorial site.
Just hours after arriving in El Paso, another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, took the lives of nine people at a night club. Zanis quickly headed to the Midwest to honor those victims.
Now, Zanis’ family says he has just weeks to live. According to updates posted on Zanis’ GoFundMe account, which he previously used to fund his trips to mass-shooting sites, he was given just four to six weeks to live on April 23.
His family is now using that same GoFundMe account to pay for funeral expenses. They have also set up a drive-thru visitation for Zanis at the family’s home in Aurora, Illinois, to keep in order with social distancing guidelines.
They say although it has been a gut-wrenching past few weeks, Zanis is “ready to be with God.”