SIDNEY — Tarissa “Rissa” Reel began her walk “Taking a Step Across Ohio” from Cincinnati to Cleveland on Monday, June 5, and by Thursday, June 8, she arrived in Sidney to meet the team at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby and Darke County.
“It’s been really interesting to just be back in my birth town, to be honest,” said Reel. “It’s really nice to see what they’re doing with my birth town and then to also be here and experience all of the love from everyone that’s a part of this, it feels great.”
Originally her walk was estimated to be about 275 miles from Cincinnati to Cleveland, but for safety reasons she added approximately 30 miles to travel through towns and avoid major roads and even use bike trails. 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.
So far, Reel has raised around $500 to donate to BBBS of Shelby and Darke County and hopes to raise more as she continues her walk. As of June 8, Reel has walked 102.3 miles and has travelled through numerous communities including Troy, Piqua and Sidney. Along her route so far she has come across multiple kind strangers who have given her water or snacks and even offered rides she had to turn down. One family even gave her homemade cookies to keep her energized as she travels towards Cleveland.
With the recent forest fires in Canada and the smoke travelling into the area and the air quality alerts that are in place, Reel continues to push forward while listening to her body and ensuring she cares for herself as much as possible, especially because she spends her nights camping along trails or in safe locations. Other concerns Reel is dealing with along the way include heat rash and muscle fatigue.
“People keep sending me stuff (about the air quality) and I can notice it a little bit just in my breathing, because breathing is a really big part of what I’m doing while I’m averaging a 15 minute mile pace,” said Reel. “I’ll feel a little bit heavy, but I just try to maintain watching my body and feeling it and if I just need to take a second to breathe a little bit more, then I do that.”
“I have had an amazing experience honestly, it’s been very beautiful. It’s been nice to see the beautiful side of Ohio, because I’ve had some rough experiences in Ohio and some rough memories from my childhood and even my young adult life,” said Reel. “It’s been nice to meet all of the kind people that I’ve really needed along the way.
Reel plans to make her arrival in Cleveland by June 14 and from there, her next project will be to finish her walk from Michigan to California, which she started with her walk from Michigan to Kansas, by walking from where she left off in Kansas to California.
During her visit to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby and Darke County, Reel was presented with a plaque honoring her for her advocacy and dedication to BBBS and a bag of snacks to keep her going as she finishes her walk.