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"Cameron’s vision was to use the race to encourage people to fight their struggles through physical activity,” David Gallagher says of his daughter, who passed away in March after completing a half-marathon in Virginia Beach. In memory of Cameron, David and his wife, Grace, have planned the inaugural Speak Up 5K race, to be held at 9 a.m. on Sept. 6 at the Carillion in Byrd Park. It will commemorate Cameron’s strong and determined spirit and carry out her idea to plan a race that will ultimately help people overcome their struggles with childhood depression.
Cameron, a Freeman High School sophomore, ran the half-marathon with her best friend Abby Donelson. “Right before she finished around mile 12, she cramped up a bit in her leg and had to stretch out. She turned to Abby and said with conviction, ‘Let’s Finish This,’ “ David Gallagher says. The phrase has since become the rallying cry for the Speak Up 5K race: “It’s been our marching orders and mission.”
The Gallaghers have organized the Speak Up 5K race, receiving assistance from about 100 volunteers. Richmond Sports Backers has also helped make Cameron’s vision a reality by contributing to the planning and execution of the race.
More than close family and friends will be running in Byrd Park: “We believe we will have over 5,000 people,” David Gallagher says. “We have heard from people in California, Colorado, New Jersey, Florida and many other states that will be flying in for this epic inaugural event.”
Cameron had battled depression. The Gallaghers’ primary focus is to raise money to create an organization to fund causes that support and help childhood depression and mental illness. This year, the funds raised will be supporting the Virginia Treatment Center for Children, which is building a new hospital solely for childhood illness, according to David Gallagher.
The ultimate hope for the Speak Up 5K is that it will achieve a lifetime legacy for Cameron, who, her father estimates, “has now positively affected millions of lives.” The Gallaghers envision that a May launch party and September race will be annual fixtures. “We want this race to have multiple effects, but one in particular is to encourage people to ‘get active,’ ” David Gallagher says. “Running and physical activity is a key remedy to many mental illness challenges.”
It will cost $35 to run in the race. To register, donate or volunteer, visit speakup5k.com.