RICHMOND, Va. - The 10th annual SpeakUp 5K, which raises awareness about teen depression and anxiety, is this Saturday at 9 a.m. in Byrd Park.
Cameron Gallagher designed the race to bring the community together to speak up for those who were suffering or battling any type of mental illness, including depression and anxiety. She wanted a place where others could simply show up without any stigma or judgment.
This year, the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation will celebrate the 10th anniversary.
“Every time at the start line, I take a second and I look around at the thousands of people out there and I say, ‘Cameron, they do care. Look at what you did!’” Cameron’s mother Grace Gallagher said.
Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation celebrates 10 years of the Speak Up 5K
Tragically, on March 16, 2014, Cameron passed away in her parents’ arms, just moments after crossing the finish line of a half marathon in Virginia Beach. Doctors believe Cameron died from an undiagnosed heart defect. Just a few days after her death, Cameron’s brother discovered plans for the SpeakUp 5K in her journals.
Grace says she clearly remembers the day Cameron thought of the idea.
“She comes running down the steps and she’s talking a mile a minute,” Grace said. “She started to share with me what she wanted to say, and I said ‘wait, Cameron, slow down a little bit. Not everybody knows how deep and dark this has been for you. You want to think about what you’re sharing with the community.’ And she looked at me with those piercing eyes and she said, ‘If I’m the one struggling and I’m not afraid to talk about it, why are you?’ That was a big eye-opener for me as a mother."
Despite their overwhelming grief, Cameron’s close-knit family, including her aunts, uncles, and cousins knew the race must go on. So, with Cameron’s journals and blueprints in hand, they created the CKG Foundation and organized its first SpeakUp 5K. That September, more than 3,500 people signed up to walk or run in honor of Cameron at Richmond’s Byrd Park.
“To be able to take that in was overwhelmingly, beautifully difficult,” says Cameron’s aunt Clair Norman. “They say joy and pain really coexist often and that was really a part of that day and continues to be really.”
“The foundation started as a coping mechanism for us, for us just to say we’re not ready to let go of Cameron,” says Cameron’s sister Sydney Gallagher. “But it turned out we’re not letting go of her, we’re just giving her out now. Everyone can feel a sister’s love.”
Over the past decade, the SpeakUp 5K has launched in several cities around the country and the CKG Foundation continues to shed light on mental health issues through its community programs and SpeakUp Clubs in schools.
Click hereto learn more about the event as well as how to sign up.
WTVR CBS 6 anchors Bill Fitzgerald and Tracy Sears will serve as emcees.
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