Illinois man who made over 27,000 crosses to honor mass shooting victims is retiring
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An Illinois man who has made more than 27,000 crosses by hand to honor victims of mass shootings has decided to retire from the practice.

Greg Zanis realized after 23 years that his Crosses for Losses ministry was starting to take both a financial and personal toll on him, prompting him to cease making the crosses, according to The Beacon-News.

“I had a breaking point in El Paso,” Zanis told the news outlet, referring to the mass shooting outside of a Walmart in Texas earlier this year. “I hadn’t slept for two days, it was 106 degrees and I collapsed from the pressure when I heard there were two more victims of the mass shooting.”


After virtually every mass shooting in America for more than two decades, Zanis has dutifully constructed a small white cross for each victim so that their memory would live on.

Zanis set up crosses after the school shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook and Parkland. He did the same after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history at a Las Vegas music festival and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.

“I leave a piece of my heart behind each time I go,” he said of his travels across the country to place the crosses.

“After Orlando, it never stopped,” Zanis said of the mass shootings. “The country had me on the road for a while every week. I have driven 850,000 miles to put up crosses. I slept in my truck and never had the money to cover what I was doing.”

While Zanis did receive donations at times, he mostly relied on his own resources to build the thousands of crosses and to travel to put them in place.

“At one point last year I was $10,000 in debt and somebody covered that for me,” he added. “Now I am $14,000 in debt.”

Zanis noted that he would like to keep his ministry going by passing it on to the nonprofit Lutheran Charities of Northbrook, Ill.

"I feel it is not the end of the ministry," he said. "It is the end of me doing it."