This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – “I want to encourage them, first of all, to get past any trepidation that they may have,” Danville Pastor Ken McCray said.

That’s why one man is sharing his story, in hopes to push people to get the COVID vaccine. A Danville pastor has become a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

He’s telling people what he went through to hopefully help save lives. He joined the department of health’s campaign called “On the Fence.” It will feature 18 stories from people in Illinois who were originally hesitant to get the vaccine but now are fully vaccinated. Pastor Ken McCray was one of four in the initial rollout.

Pastor Ken McCray doesn’t want other people to deal with the trauma he has faced.

“It had a devastating impact on us,” Pastor McCray said. “My wife passing and myself being in the hospital for like three weeks, losing 20 pounds, and then my oxygen level dropping to like 76-78 and having to go through that process of recovery.”

McCray and his wife contracted COVID in late May. Both were hospitalized. After over a month of fighting, his wife passed away.

“She looked at her and said “I’m tired,” Pastor McCray said. “She had a brain aneurysm that was irreversible and July of the 11th at 4 a.m. she transitioned to be with the Lord.”

McCray says the experience devastated his family and can only hope people get vaccinated to not have the same fate.

“The emotional toll that it had on them is just something that you don’t want anybody to go through if something can be done to prevent that,” Pastor McCray said. “This right here, the vaccine, is something that can prevent that.”

Now, he’s teamed up with the Illinois Department of Public Health to share his story. He’s passionate about people taking preventative measures to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy.

Public health officials, especially in Vermilion County, are just as passionate. They’re still urging more people to get their shots. The county has seen more than three thousand new cases in the last two weeks.

“It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a preventative, and that nobody needs to go through this particular level of pain that is experienced by not just myself, but many other families as well,” Pastor McCray said.

“I knew Mrs. McCray,” Mayor Rickey Williams said. “She was a lovely person. To see her husband give such a passion plea to encourage people to get vaccinated it made me proud.”

While McCray’s message will be heard across the state. Mayor Rickey Williams wants it to speak volumes in Central Illinois.

“My hope is by seeing a trusted face that maybe it will help people who have been on the fence reconsider,” Mayor Rickey Williams said.

The IDPH campaign will be broadcast on social media, TV, and radio. They hope to spread the message to try and keep everyone safe and healthy.