PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - It's a new day in the young life of Ian Cummins and this day will never be forgotten.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with family and friends, Ian has kept his promise. It's a promise born of a brother's love.
Ryan James Cummins, Ian's 20-year-old brother, took his own life last November. Crushing depression, beginning in his teens, overwhelmed a smart, funny and caring boy.
With that loss, the 23-year-old ICU nurse from Dormont, launched a mission to get people talking about mental illness and to share their own stories.
It was done in the hopes that through conversation, there might come some compassion and understanding.
"The more people who come forward and talk about mental health, the more people who bring it to others attention, the more it can spread and awareness can be the result," Ian said.
Ian's journey began on an early March morning at Virginia Beach. The kindness of people offering a hot meal or a place to rest his head over the long miles will live in his heart forever.
Ian's choice of the Golden Gate Bridge was no accident.
An estimated 2,000 souls have committed suicide there.
"There's a dark past to this bridge, but being able to walk across it and share Ryan's message, hopefully we can make a bright future for it," Ian said.
Stopping midway, Ian pulled from his pocket a handful of Ryan's ashes that he had been carrying.
"As tragic as what happened - man, almost a year now, it brought a lot of people together," Ian said.
Then, at long last, "Land's End" - Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean...
"But, you know, part of me is a little sad. Part of me is a little sad that this is the end of like, land. I can't walk anymore," he said.
But Ian Cummins has touched so many people by telling them about his brother and listening to their grieving.
Brennan Noury met Ian on U.S. Route 50 near Stage Coach, Nev.
"I lost my sister almost eight years ago to mental illness," Brennan said.
Or, Bethann and John Paul King, who first saw Ian hiking up the 8,000 feet of Carson Pass.
"He was so inspiring to us, and so healing, because we had lost our nephew, 19-year-old Duncan McIntosh, a year ago July," Bethann said.
Jake Lusardi, a close friend of Ryan's, joined Ian on the road in Kansas.
"Definitely helped me with the grieving process more, and I realize what an awesome country we live in," Jake said.
Ian's parents, Kathryn and Jim Cummins, believed in their son and also found a sense of peace.
"We're saddened," Jim said, "And we're happy all at the same time because we're getting him back safe and just overwhelmed at the accomplishment."
"As I was walking across the bridge, I felt Ryan as Ian has felt Ryan throughout his journey," Kathryn said.
Over his 3,200 miles through 10 states, Ian Cummins wore out five pairs of shoes.
On this day, he reunited with Megan Woodring, who supported him every step of the way. No wonder he would ask her to marry him before this day was over.
After all, life is a journey both sweet and fragile.
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