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Thousands run in Speak Up 5K to rid stigma of teen depression and anxiety: 'This is Cameron’s Dream'

Posted at 3:35 PM, Sep 10, 2022

Watch the report from WTVR CBS 6 Photojournalist Enza Marcy in the video player above.

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 2,000 people took part in the 9th annual Speak Up 5K on Saturday in Richmond's Byrd Park.

The race is the dream and legacy of Cameron K. Gallagher, who died in 2014 of an undiagnosed heart condition.

"She was running a half marathon and she was doing that to fight her depression," Grace Gallagher, Cameron's mother, said.

In the wake of the loss, her family established the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation (CKG) to fulfill her dream of raising awareness about teen depression and anxiety.

Cameron, who faced her own struggles with depression and anxiety, realized other teens were also silently fighting the illness.

"She knew the statistics – mental illness affects one out of every five teens – but she understood that the more people 'SpeakUp' the more people realize they are not alone, helping reduce the stigma attached to mental health," officials with CKG wrote.

Grace Gallagher, who is the executive director of the CKG Foundation, said Saturday's event was about more than just people coming together to support each other.

“We've actually been able to raise money to get real programs to the students and to these kids,” Grace Gallagher said.

Speak Up 5K
Speak Up 5K

And before Cameron's passing, the teen had planned a 5K.

"I think the first thing is a conversation about how important it is to be proactive with your mental health — not reactive. Don't wait till there's a crisis," Grace Gallagher explained. "Just like you do with your physical health, have a mental health plan ready for you, because you never know when it's gonna come and something might hit that you weren't expecting."

Grace Gallagher said her daughter's dream was to normalize the conversation about mental health.

"She finally got to a place where she said, I am Cameron Gallagher, and I have depression," Grace Gallagher recalled. "I am not depression, and we should celebrate the whole person and that's what this is about."

The celebration was designed to be uplifting with party zones and inspirations from Cameron.

"So it is up to us to be her voice. And you only have that much pain if you have that much love. So we choose to focus on the love," Grace Gallagher said. "I think she'd be saying, 'Wow.' I think she'd be smiling. I think she'd be really proud that she started this."

WTVR CBS 6 is a proud sponsor of the event and anchors Tracy Sears and Bill Fitzgerald served as emcees.

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