Local man returns as Jesus for Good Friday walk

By Beau Ebenezer

April 18, 2014 Updated Apr 18, 2014 at 8:26 PM CDT

PEKIN, Ill. -- A local man covered in blood and sweat made a grueling walk through Pekin, bearing his cross for Good Friday.

Dressed as Jesus Christ and carrying a 50 pound cross, Pekin native, Paul Helmig made his way through town once again.

"God keeps blessing me in spite of myself," said Helmig. "Some people look at me and think that guy carries a cross around so he's holy, but I am one of the biggest sinners out there. If it wasn't for the blood of Jesus Christ, I don't know where I would be."

Friday marked the 23rd year for the symbolic cross-walk.

But the last three years haven't been easy for the 61-year-old.

Helmig has already overcome cancer twice.

Last year, due to a foot injury, his son played the role of Jesus.

This year, Helmig may have cancer again.

But he pushed back thyroid surgery to Wednesday, so he could still do the walk.

Family members said it's what he's meant to do.

"I do know the other side of it, said Paul's wife," Connie Helmig. "But it is his passion, and I know it is his heart. I will continue to support him."

As Helmig pushed his way through the streets of Pekin he hoped drivers passing by remember the true meaning of Easter.

"I get emotional," said South Pekin resident, Dawn Tyler. "I stand in silence, and I just watch it. I am in awe honestly of what he is doing. It just makes it real."

Helmig said he will continue to do the walk as long as he can.

With what he's been through already, he believes fate is still on his side.