Young man carries cross 12 miles in honor of friends lost to drugs

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A Central Indiana man walked 12 miles carrying a 40-pound cross Tuesday afternoon in order to raise awareness about drug abuse.

“I just want to touch people’s hearts,” said Chris Clark, who set out on his walk from Franklin at 3 p.m.

Judging by the amount of car honks and waves Clark and his cross generated during his trek south on Highway 31, it quickly became apparent that he did make an impression.

“I’m just ready to make a difference and to live a pure, clean and devoted life myself and walk this walk and talk this talk,” Clark said, “really be who I say I am.”

Clark said he used to be heading down a much different path as a drug addict. He credits God and the Who So Ever Will Community Church in Edinburgh for saving him. The significance of the church made it the perfect place for him to end his journey.

“I’m proud of him,” said Kenneth Clark, Clark’s father who walked with his son on the journey. “The change I’ve seen in his life, and my other children, is just joy unspeakable and full of glory. I couldn’t be a happier dad.”

But Chris Clark wasn’t just walking to tell his own story.

“I’m not going to quit on any of them,” Chris Clark said, “on anyone who’s ever lost someone too early.”

Clark said he has several friends who have died in recent years due to drug addiction, including his best friend, William Tyler Ray.

“He’s kind of the one who put this on my heart to do this,” Clark said, pointing to a t-shirt he was wearing with Ray’s name on it.

Ray’s parents were at the church waiting for Chris in Edninburgh. Nine months ago, they buried their son, after they thought he had kicked his addiction.

“We’d helped him get into a program and he’d been clean for five months,” said Ray’s father.

“All it takes is getting in with the wrong crowd again and he’s gone,” said Tina Ray, Ray’s mother.

“He was found in a bank parking lot with the needle of a syringe, with heroin, still stuck in his arm and that’s how he died,” Chris Clark said.

During the last leg of his journey, Chris said his friend, and all the others who died were with him with each step, and as the police escorted him into town, it was clear those left behind were with him too.

“Bless your heart,” said Tina Ray.

A journey complete.

“It’s an act of God,” Tina Ray said.  “If he was touched in any way by our son’s death, and it’s his gain to be able to escape his addiction, then I think it’s awesome. It’s awesome.”