Thousands attend prayer service for Henrico teen who died at half-marathon

Posted at 10:50 PM, Mar 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-20 00:07:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Nearly 2,000 people came out to Bliley’s Funeral Home in Richmond on Wednesday night to pay their respects to 16-year-old Cameron Gallagher.

The former Douglas Freeman High School student died Sunday after collapsing at the finish line of a half-marathon in Virginia Beach.

Hundreds of people fanned out in the parking lot of the funeral home, some of them waiting for hours to honor Gallagher.

“It's just a horrific tragedy,” said family friend Andy Fratkin.

High school students Kelsey Stratford and Ann Hammond Gift hugged and cried while sharing stories about Gallagher.

“This is a first for me, and it's just very hard,” Gift said.

The three girls used to swim together.

“At every single swim meet we were at she literally ran up and down the pool cheering for you,” Stratford said.

The pair said they are comforted knowing Gallagher was so happy when she passed away.

“She always smiled, like if you saw her out she would just smile at you and make your day better,” Stratford said.

Gallagher’s father said his family is making it through this tough time with the help of others.

“Being with the community and with our friends and family has kept Grace and I afloat,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said those people are a testament to how loved his daughter was by so many.

“Cameron is an inspiration to everybody, and they are all here, they are waiting in line to come and see her because she is such a special person,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher added that this is just the beginning of his daughter’s legacy.

The family is planning a 5K race in honor of Cameron Gallagher called the Speak Up 5K because Cameron wanted people to speak up and help those in need.

A memorial fund has been set up in Cameron’s honor called the Cameron K. Gallagher Benefit Memorial Fund.

To learn more about it, visit this website:

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Bridget Catholic Church. Interment will follow in Mt. Calvary Cemetery