LANSING, Mich. — Tarissa Reel is walking.
“I am on a mission to walk across the United States,” Reel said.
She started five days ago walking 15 to 20 miles per day with no end in sight for several more weeks.
“I am going to be walking until Aug. 14 that is my stopping day," Reel said. "That is when I have to come back and be here for my children to start school.”
Reel is doing it to raise awareness about the stigma surrounding mental health issues and to show people all they have to do is put one foot in front of the other.
“I think that there’s a lot of people who feel alone and a lot of people feel like they can’t overcome and here I am putting one front in front of the next to show that’s all that they have to do,” said Reel.
It's a mission that hits close to home.
“Mental health has affected my life a great deal and still does," Reel said. "From childhood abuse and neglect to my mom having her own mental health issues as well as abuse and passing away from that.”
She started in Burton on Tuesday and made it to Lansing Saturday despite the rain.
“Every day that we have been out here, and we’re on day five, it’s been raining and that’s okay this is part of the experience,” Reel said.
Her final destination is over 2,000 miles away. She'd have to walk at a blistering pace to get there, but getting there isn't exactly the point.
“I want to make it to California, but the goal is not the destination, it's to show that it’s the journey that matters, the people you meet along the way,” Reel said.
Right now, her goal is Missouri, and then she'll plan the rest of the route once she gets there.
Reel knows the journey won't be easy.
“We come through mountains through life, it’s not going to be an easy journey, I'm not going to be like ‘oh man this is sunshine and beautiful,’" said Reel. “Our journeys aren’t always easy, they're going to be filled with a lot of hardships.”
She wants to show people they can keep going.
“Even if you don’t think you can keep going, it’s about still going because you don’t know what you’re going to be doing a week from now, six months from now or even five years," Reel said.
Along the way she's raising money for Whaley Childrens Center in Flint, but she doesn't want to stop there.
“If we can raise enough awareness and raise enough money, I would love to donate to other children’s organizations in each state we go through,” Reel said.
Donations can be made to Reel in person if you happen to see her walking or through Venmo on her Facebook page.