DANVILLE – As we march toward the two-year point in the COVID-19 pandemic the headlines have become real life for many in Illinois. One Vermilion County family, dealing with loss has now teamed up with the state in hopes of saving more lives.
Pastor Ken McCray and his wife Rene have led a church in Danville since the late 1990s.
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In May 2021, the couple traveled to a wedding and ended up with COVID. Both were unvaccinated.
“It was uncertainty. We knew it needed to be done but I think every member of the family was uneasy about the shot,” said McCray.
Once back at home, their conditions got worse and days later, Ken called 911 for Rene. She was taken to the hospital and when pastor McCray tried to follow his wife to ICU, a temperature check led to him being immediately admitted as well.
Three weeks later, Pastor McCray was strong enough to come home. His wife was not. Rene died after spending 38 days on life support after being transferred to a hospital in Champaign. The McCrays shared 35 years of marriage and 3 grown children.
“It is a difference in reading about somebody versus being that somebody so it resonated even more. I made it mandatory for my children,” said McCray. “Even with my congregation, there’s a little more conviction with it now.”
McCray says they often talked about getting vaccinated, but didn’t, now he’s working with the State of Illinois and the “All In for Illinois” ad campaign that aims to help people feel safe and comfortable about receiving the covid 19 vaccine.
“For some people, it’s a realization that they’re not going to budge, but for those who are on the fence, it provides an opportunity to provide tools and information for consideration that can help move them to the other side,” said McCray.
McCray says he’s also using his influence as a pastor to help others avoid falling prey to fear and misinformation.