Pekin man takes up the cross to continue his fathers legacy

By WEEK Producer

March 28, 2013 Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 10:03 AM CDT

PEKIN, Ill. -- For more than two decades, a Pekin man has bared his cross to the community on Good Friday.

For the last 21 years, 60-year-old North Pekin resident, Paul Helmig has dressed up as Jesus on Good Friday and walked through the streets of Pekin carrying a 10 foot wooden cross.

In the last two years he has won many battles, including two with cancer, but this year his streak has come to an end.

"Last year right after I carried the cross, I was helping my nephew on his roof and wound up taking a 10 to 12 foot off the roof and shattered my left heel," said Helmig.

He broke his heel in seven places and had to have additional surgery to fuse his ankle together. His son, Travis, who was in the process of moving to San Diego, California began praying for his dad.

"The lord told him that he is supposed to dress up and carry the cross for me this year just like I would, so I can get my operation and get myself out of pain," said Helmig.

"I was going to leave January 15 and I decided I'd stay and do this for him because nobody else was going to do it and I know he'd be stubborn and do it himself and probably hurt himself, but it's better for me to do it than him," said Travis Helmig.

Travis says although he can never be his dad, he does hope he can continue to embody the christian faith.

"It's going to be awesome to maybe touch them for that, even touch the person driving by. They are going to understand what that day is actually about. the real reason is Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins."

Paul says to see Travis not being afraid to share his faith out in the public will be a joy unspeakable, leaving him with great peace in his heart, until he can once again return to carrying on the tradition he started 21 years ago.