Metro-East News

Illinois groups sending crosses, comfort dogs to Las Vegas

These two Golden Retriever puppies are some of the newest recruits for Warrior Canine Connection, a nonprofit that trains service dogs to help wounded warriors. Research has shown that dogs can help with the physical and emotional effects of traumatic injuries.
These two Golden Retriever puppies are some of the newest recruits for Warrior Canine Connection, a nonprofit that trains service dogs to help wounded warriors. Research has shown that dogs can help with the physical and emotional effects of traumatic injuries. U.S. Air Force photo/Sean Kimmons

An Illinois nonprofit will be carrying 59 crosses to Las Vegas as part of an anti-violence crusade.

Greg Zanis, founder of Crosses for Losses, began setting up white crosses to commemorate the victims of violence at the site of the 1999 high school shooting at Columbine. He has made 20,000 crosses in the last 20 years, since his father-in-law was shot and killed in an armed robbery, he told the Chicago Tribune. His anti-violence crusade became an official nonprofit this summer.

Zanis has received donations to fund his trip to Las Vegas, where he will set up the crosses for the victims of Stephen Paddock, who opened fire Sunday night on a country music festival and killed 59 people, wounding more than 500.

He built 49 crosses for the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., and in December, he built more than 700 crosses for the victims of homicide in Chicago in 2016.

Zanis isn’t the only one heading from Illinois to Las Vegas. Lutheran Church Charities, of Chicago, will be sending therapy dogs to the hospital where the shooting victims are being treated.

“People just need a moment of sunshine in a terrible, terrible day,” said organizer Mike Millett.

The organization already has an affiliate in Las Vegas and is sending seven more dogs from Chicago, according to WGN.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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