SIDNEY — On June 5 Rissa Reel, originally from St. Marys but now residing in Michigan, will begin her walk across Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland to raise awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby and Darke County.
Reel has done two other walks to help end the stigma and bring awareness to mental health issues. Her first walk was 800 miles from Michigan to Kansas and her second was for the DMAN Foundation based in Detroit that helps individuals with physical and mental disabilities. She chose to support DMAN Foundation on her second walk because her brother has cerebral palsy.
“I think the biggest thing to do is to share my story, show other people that they’re not alone in some of the hardships they may have faced,” said Reel. “You can keep going, you can go anywhere you set your mind to. That’s my big motto, you just have to keep going, keep taking a step they all add up.”
For her third walk, about 275 miles from Cincinnati to Cleveland, Reel has been working to raise awareness and donations for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Shelby and Darke County before her walk has even begun. Her website https://takingastep.com/ contains more information about her walk and her personal experience with BBBS. When she was growing up in Sidney and St. Marys, BBBS provided her with mentor-ship and support during some of the more difficult times in her childhood and now she wants to give back to the organization that supported her.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters is pretty important to me, because they helped me when I was a child. I was part of their program, I was a little and I was provided mentor-ship and a peer just to be outside of my home life, which wasn’t so good,” said Reel. “It was nice to be at the school with other people that were similar in age and able to be there for me whenever I needed resources with homework or whatnot. So that was really special for me because I didn’t have that at home or anywhere else outside of them. I like to devote all of my walks to kids, for my first walk I got to raise awareness for a children’s home in Flint, Michigan. I think that our kids are our future and I just want to do everything for our future.”
On her website is a link to her PayPal account and a link to BBBS of Shelby and Darke County for supporters of Reel and her cause can donate. The majority of money donated to Reel is going to BBBS unless the donor specifically notes the donation is for her use on her walk across Ohio. So far, Reel has raised around $300 for BBBS through speaking events, T-shirt sales and donations.
“She was a former little, so that’s exciting for us. Getting to know Rissa, I can tell that she is very driven to make a difference in the lives of children,” said Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby and Darke County Katie Price. “Between that and her experience of being a little, she knows, from a personal perspective, how important it is to have that mentor in your life, to have that person who really just links arms with you and helps you truly achieve your fullest potential. We’re honored that she also embraces our mission, our vision is for all youth to achieve their full potential and our mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships to ignite the power and promise of youth and when we find someone who is on the same wavelength with that and who really wants to see our youth thrive, we’re just honored because that means that they see the value in what we’re doing and they see and potentially experience that same impact that we work so hard to provide.”
On June 8, from noon to 1 p.m. the BBBS of Shelby and Darke County is welcoming Reel as she makes her way through the area to an open house event at the Sidney BBBS office, 2840 Wapakoneta Ave., to recognize Reel’s hard work.
“If you see me out there on the road, say hi, honk your horn, anything to make that contact with me it keeps me going out there,” said Reel.