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"Ian Walks America" Honored For Shedding Light On Mental Illness

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Ian Cummins, who completed his walk across America in memory of his brother, is now back home in Dormont.

And Tuesday, he was honored in his own community for bringing his message of hope to so many others.

"Ian basically gave me a tour of America," said State Rep. Dan Miller.

Miller was one of many following Cummins on Facebook and through blogs as he walked through 10 states on a mission, sharing the story of his 20-year-old brother Ryan, who took his own life last November after battling chronic depression for years.

Ian has already logged more miles and memories than most 23-year-olds.

Beginning in March in Virginia Beach with the Atlantic at his back, he spent six months crossign the country, eventually walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, scattering Ryans ashes and finally seeing the Pacific surf.

Along the road, hundreds of strangers became friends, many who could identify with Ian's purpose of shining light on the darnkess surrounding mental illness.

Ian told those gathered in Mt. Lebanon, "When folks who struggle with mental illness are able to come forward and openly share their stories without judgement, without criticism, that's how we spread awareness."

During his walk, Ian raised nearly $10,000 for the National Alliance On Mental Illness.

"To have someone like Ian take it upon himself to walk across the county and take that message to whomever he met along the way takes our work to a whole new level," said Chris Michaelsd of NAMI.

Jake Lusardi, also of Dormont and a life-long friend of Ryan's, kept Ian company from Kansas onward.

Then, with Jim and Kathryn Cummins looking on, Rep. Miller presented Ian with a special honor from the state of Pennsylvania.

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