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Thank You!

I want to take this time to thank everyone who has followed this journey and supported the endeavor. Throughout these last 6 months, and even the months preceding the actual walk, many of you have done a great deal in making both the trek and mission a success.

As a result of fundraising efforts to benefit the National Alliance of Mental Illness in Southwestern Pennsylvania (NAMI SWPA), we raised nearly $10,000 to benefit the non-profit. With this being said, many of you have also joined the “Ian Walks America” team for the upcoming NAMI Walk here in Pittsburgh. Thus far, fundraising efforts have raised $460.00. Furthermore, several of you made persoanl donations to help me with expenses during the actual walk. A number of you donated to me before I left Pittsburgh, while I was away, and even spontaneously on the road itself.  Thank you to all who contributed in this manner!

Another huge thank you goes out to all of you who hosted me along the way. I cannot express how grateful I am for the hospitality and kindness you all gave to me out on the road. In many of the places I least expected to meet someone, you were there. To take me, a stranger, into your homes and to treat me as if I were apart of the family is something I will never forget. You have all inspired me to be as open and welcoming towards others as you all were to me.

The next thank you goes to all of you who performed those random acts of kindness on the road. Was it something to drink, something to eat, money for food or a hotel? No matter the act, I am forever grateful that you chose to stop at some point to lend a hand!

The final shout out goes out to all of you who helped spread the mission of this walk. Many of you may fall under a number of these categories above, but those of you who helped make an impact on spreading awareness in your own communities as a result of the walk is beyond incredible! Many of you helped to do this by interviewing me for a local paper, news, or radio station.  The way that many of you also contributed to this is both inspirational and courgeous. I am talking about those of you who came forward in sharing your own stories. I have seen all of the posts on the website, heard hundreds of stories on the walk, and realize how much support and hope you have given others simply by coming forward and initiating discussion in regards to your association(s) with mental illness. To those of you who fought back on Stigma by coming forward to shine a light on the reality of those ailments which affect our minds, I thank you. To those of you who shared and continue to share your stories, I thank and support all that you are doing and have done to spread awareness. Some of you who have come forward include those of you who struggle with a form of mental illness, those of you who have lost a loved one to it, and those of you who have made a living of striving day to day to make a future where we can all accept it. Thank You.

The Walk Continues!

Though the walk across America has come to a close, its mission continues.

On October 5th, the National Alliance on Mental Illness South Western PA’s annual 5K walk will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “The more people that form teams and recruit walkers, the more awareness will be raised about the need for quality mental healthcare”

With this being said, I would like as many people as possible to take part in this cause. So many of you have joined me on this journey across America in Spirit and now I hope many of you can physically join me on October 5th. I would be honored to meet you all!

As well as spreading awareness, this walk is an opportunity to raise money for the cause. Let’s assume each person within the “Ian Walks America” group can fundraise $100 and we end up having 100 walkers on our team: $10,000 can go a long way (and hopefully that can be the minimum)! On the site provided by the link below, join the “Ian Walks America” team and find out how YOU can fundraise for the walk.

The Final Day!

Saturday, August 30th, 2014: On this day the final walk will commence at 1200PM from Vista Point at the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge (Pedestrian side). The meeting time will be at 1130AM and the walk will end off of Point Lobos Ave. south (Left) of Cliff House in San Francisco. Total Mileage: 6

Recent Thoughts on Mission and Robin Williams’ Passing

For nearly 6 months, I have dedicated this walk to Mental Health. The foundation of its mission is to spread awareness surrounding the reality of Mental Illness, a reality that is often overlooked, hidden in the shadows, polluted by stigma, or suffered with in silence. All of these points that shroud mental illness connect one way or another, but a solitary key to lifting the veil and shining a light on fact comes with the ability to invoke awareness. Awareness can be spread through discussion, but discussion can only be initiated by people who wish to talk about the matter. By doing this walk across America it has been my goal is to initiate this discussion by giving the people of our country the story of my brother Ryan who took his life this past November. It has been my hope throughout this entire trek that the story of his life and struggle with mental illness would give others, who may suffer or have lost, something to relate with. By giving others something to possibly relate with and even using Ryan’s story to help educate as well, it is also in my hopes that this result will create a ripple effect. When we give others a true story to connect with (a reality per say), we demonstrate an ability to reassure these individuals that they are not alone. As the result of sharing Ryan’s story, may it be in the best interest of those who suffer in silence to come forward without fear of being misunderstood or alone in their own associations with mental illness. When we bring others forward with a story to, in turn, share their own, we continue to spread awareness with each story shared thereafter, thus, creating the ripples from the first. On the subject of Stigma, it is my belief, and I hope many of yours as well, that it can be battled when we share our stories aloud so that others may do the same. Stories bring a light and a face to what mental illness is, does, and who it can affect. To start, when we each share our own stories we immediately take one object of Stigma and dispose of it: The belief that Mental Illness is selective towards only specific personalities, lifestyles, or life choices can be eliminated when those from all walks of life relay their own stories. When shared, we can see with relative ease that those who suffer from Mental Illness come from all walks of life-Rich, Poor, Black, White, Male or Female etc. Everyone and anyone can be afflicted; however, everyone and anyone can also be a hand in eliminating this very misconception that Mental Illness solely affects specific minds.
With all this being said, let the recent death of Robin Williams, be a testament, though a sad and tragic one. Let his life, legacy, and ongoing struggle shine a ray of light on the misconstrued piece Stigma that surrounds those who suffer with any form of Mental Illness. A life seemingly upbeat filled with smiles and jollity that brought these very aspects to his audience was superficial to what was held within. What we see in people on the outside does not always reflect the current status of the mind within. An individual struggling with a mental illness can not simply “get over it” at their own convenience. If it were a choice then one would think that the presence of fame and fortune would make one “choose” to not have thoughts of suicide or be depressed. If mental illness and depression were simply based on lifestyle, fame, or fortune then we would not have lost this wonderful man. RIP Robin Williams.