Across All Lines, a walk to bring awareness to the importance of mental health, will be held starting at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at Gahanna Middle School West, 350 N. Stygler Road.

Across All Lines, a walk to bring awareness to the importance of mental health, will be held starting at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at Gahanna Middle School West, 350 N. Stygler Road.

Jefferson Elementary School teacher Heather Haringa said Across All Lines is a community that understands the importance of mental health and works to end the stigma of mental illness.

She said she conceived the idea of the walk after the death of her mother, Susan McMunn, on April 2, 2015.

"The idea of the walk started when I was in class and was thinking about a tradition for my family to remember my mom," she said. "At first, I thought about the walk as something for just my family but then realized how many people suffer in silence with mental-health issues, either for themselves or a family member."

Haringa said her mother struggled with mental illness and addiction for her entire life.

"As I was thinking of a way for me and my family to remember and honor her, I thought about us walking across Gahanna and sharing stories and memories of her," Haringa said. "Then I had an a-ha moment.

"The thing about mental illness is that so many people suffer in silence, whether it is the person who struggles with the illness or family and friends who are also affected," she said. "While the walk would be meaningful for me and my family, why walk alone?"

Haringa said Gahanna has lost students to suicide.

"People are hurting and can feel isolated and scared when it comes to this topic," she said. "This walk is a way to say, 'Let's not walk alone; let's do it together.' "

May 1 was chosen as the day for the walk because it's the first day of mental-health awareness month and the first day of children's mental-health awareness week, she said.

Local resident Barb Nose said her family came to understand the importance of mental-health awareness in May 2014, when her life changed forever through her son's suicide. He was 27.

"Our son, Tyler, had PHD -- perfectly hidden depression," she said. "No one knew the depth of his sadness and despair. To his family and friends, he was a joy to be around, the life of the party, a shining star. We now know that was not how Tyler felt about himself."

Nose said it's time to stop the stigma surrounding mental-health issues and start a conversation to help those in need.

"We miss Tyler every minute of every day," she said. "He is the reason we are working to raise an awareness with events like this community walk. Several of the organizations that are helping our family will be represented at the high school with information to share.

"My husband, Kevin, and I are proud to be a part of this event and encourage everyone to join us on the walk."

Haringa said she wants students to have as much ownership as possible with the walk, which is about two miles.

One class designed the event's logo, and the Paw Print will print shirts.

The GLHS Lionettes will perform at the walk, and student artwork will be on display.

"We are looking for as many ways as possible to incorporate students for this event," Haringa said.

The walk's route will start at Middle School West, go through Creekside and end at the Gahanna Lincoln High School track, where many local organizations will be set up to provide information and resources.

The first 500 people registered for the walk will receive a free Across All Lines T-shirt and resource bag, thanks to a grant from the ADAMH Board of Franklin County.

"We are working on becoming a nonprofit," Haringa said. "Until then, we are working with Cornerstone of Hope so donations for the walk are tax-deductible. I am going through the process to have Across All Lines be a nonprofit, where we help break down the financial barriers for children and families who need mental-health support through counseling."

This year's walk is free, but participants need to register at across-all-lines.com.

Music will be played throughout the walk, and food trucks will be set up at the high school. Buses also will be provided to take people from the high school back to their vehicles at the middle school.

"We would love to hold this walk annually, maybe in different communities around central Ohio," Haringa said. "We started in Gahanna because I grew up here and my mom lived in Gahanna. She lived on the west side of Gahanna so that's why I wanted to start on the west side and walk across Gahanna."