HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Every day thousands of cars fly by on Highway 70 in Arkansas. If you take a closer look next time, it’s safe to say you'll see a not-so-ordinary sight walking the shoulder.
“It’s not safe, it's a sure bet,” said Mike Vail of Hot Springs.
Since June, 64-year-old Mike Vail has started most mornings with a walk along Highway 70.
“Usually four [days a week]. I’ll take off a day,” Vail said.
He is hard to miss, carrying a nearly 12 foot, 40-lb cross on his shoulders.
“Sometimes you will hear them run over the [rumble strip] on the side of the road. Sometimes you hear them go over the center line,” Vail said.
It’s just him, his cross and a bottle of water, walking however far his own two feet will take him.
“You remember Forrest Gump when he was running? I think I’m tired now and I turn around and go the other way,” Vail laughed.
If you're wondering why Vail does this, you are not alone.
“Sometimes they stop on curiosity. Sometimes they stop on the desire. Sometimes they just want to know why,” he said.
After spotting him walking one day, our own Laura Monteverdi asked him that very question.
“I have a lot better relationship with Christ," he said. "He saved my life.”
In September of 2018, Vail underwent a quadruple bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack. The health scare changed his life and grew his faith in God.
“I feel like people have forgotten, in the rush, what Jesus Christ has done for them,” Vail said.
So, for 4 to 5 hours a day, Vail walks as a reminder and let’s God do the rest.
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to that thank me, that say, ‘I needed this, you’re at the right place at the right time.’ It’s made me a different person,” he said. “If I get somebody going 70 mph out here on the highway to slow down and say, ‘That guy is out on the side of the road for Jesus Christ,’ I’ve accomplished my goal.”
Vail said he makes it his mission to pray with each person that stops on the side of the road. He said if you don’t see him on Highway 70, you can most likely catch him walking with the cross in downtown Hot Springs.