Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where I’ll Be This Weekend

Tomorrow Ken and I are heading east to Richmond, Virginia to participate in the Speak Up 5K run. Erika is going too, but a puking stomach bug has delayed her departure for a day. Boo.


You may remember that on March 16, 2014 Cameron Gallagher, age 16, died at the finish line of the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. She had a heart condition that had not been previously identified.

Mile 6 of the race

Cameron was the niece of my dear friend Clair. This has been a tremendous loss for the family as well as the community as a whole.

Prior to her death, Cameron struggled with teenage depression. In fact, she was quietly planning a race called the Speak Up 5K to raise awareness about this issue. Frustrated that depression held such a stigma, Cameron wanted to draw attention to the issue. After her death, Cameron’s parents found the race plans in Cameron’s room. She had already planned out her speeches and gotten sponsors.

The family is holding the Speak Up 5K this weekend to honor Cameron’s legacy, but also to bring awareness to an issue that Cameron struggled with so much. All proceeds will go to the Virginia Treatment Center for Children.

There is a virtual run as well if you won’t be in Richmond that day. Go HERE.

What an amazing and inspirational girl she is.

Cameron and her mom, Grace

The mantra for this race is “Let’s Finish This.” These are the words Cameron spoke to her running buddy at mile 12 of the half marathon, only one mile before she died.

So many thoughts swirl through my brain as I think about the weekend:

First, I sit here wondering how any family survives the loss of a child. It is an unspeakable event, and a worry that tries to push itself into my brain sometimes during the wee hours of the night. I know deep down that children die and families go on, but families never go on the same. There is a defined before and after.

With any tragedy, life is forever changed and what one knew as normal does not exist anymore. The void has to be tremendous and all encompassing. I think, but for the grace of God go I. I have my two children safe and close. At this moment. Life is so unpredictable and ever changing. I could my blessings and gifts constantly.

Secondly, I am moved by runners. What power we have to incite change and to bond people. What strength we give to our endeavors. We run for ourselves (cheaper than therapy, right?) and to overcome our stresses, fears, worries and addictions. But, in the case of this race, we also run to support a family and a cause.  I cannot think of other sports that encompass their communities and give back this way. Running is so all inclusive. Good for us for making running more than just one foot in front of the other.

Lastly, the phrase “Let’s Finish This.” What does that mean to you? In this case, those three words mean more than crossing a finish line of a half marathon. They have come to represent a deeper call to follow through with what you say you will do, to have goals that are meaningful to you. A call to do something big and great and tremendous – something positive, big or small.

Well, that’s all I got. Today is all I’ve got. Today is all you’ve got too. Make it a good one and finish what you start.



  1. Prepare for hot! Supposed to be in the 90s Saturday. Wonderful cause, have a great race!

    1. Yes, I saw that!! Was hoping for cooler fall temps, but I guess not. And HUMID!

    2. Welcome to Virginia !! It's our hottest week of summer yet!

  2. I am part of that crappy club of having to watch your parents bury their only son...

  3. Your last paragraph truly says it all! Thanks for your column! Love it!

  4. What a beautiful girl. My heart breaks for her family--and others like them. Thanks for the reminder to live in the here and now and enjoy each precious moment with our children.

  5. I am so impressed that this young girl wasn't just angry with her illness, or ashamed of it, or frustrated by it. She was working to know more about it, to help herself, and to help others. What a mature reaction - and what a legacy.

  6. what a sad story. everybody know's how sensitive the heart is and how dangerous this sport could be but so young in age this so much of sadness.
    i think this is so nice quote: "We run for ourselves (cheaper than therapy, right?)" i like this one very much. i should quote this one in my next blogpost, yes. so big and nice words. thank you for this awakened blogpost! best regards

  7. Sportsbackers marathon training team is doing 18 miles on Saturday AM...our route doesn't include Byrd Park this week, but I'm going to use "let's finish this" as my mantra. Sorry to miss the opportunity to run "with" you. Peace to all of you.
    (And, hey, I went to JMU, too.)

  8. I'd love to connect while you are here! I'm on SportsBackers too and have 18 miles to do on Saturday morning, so I sadly can't do the Speak Up 5k.

    And yeah... get ready for hot and humid. The only word to describe our recent weather is brutal.

    ~Kathryn (of - signed in on different account right now!)

    1. Kathryn, which team? Maybe we can do a virtual together as part of the 18...

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. This is such beautiful writing, Beth. You so accurately describe what we think and feel as soon as we become parents. It's such a leap of faith, having kids. You worry about everything, and when something like this happens you just die a little inside. I just cannot imagine how her family manages the pain. Thanks for this.

  10. Thanks so much for posting. I have been struggling with diagnosed depression for 10 years - and I'm only 25. The stigma is absolutely devastating, as is the story about Cameron, but it's heartening to see her family creating something so wonderful out of tragedy. I will be running here in MA with my fiance on Saturday, and will purchase a shirt to support the cause. Thank you and I hope you make the most out of your weekend.

  11. Goosebumps...again from your blog. Yet another moving story to inspire me to get out there. I wish I could get the weekend off to actually run with you in Richmond but I'll have to do the virtual version. As a parent, I'll hug my two a little closer the next time I see them. Passing this on to my running buddies, too. Thanks for the story!

  12. Great post! My run today will be dedicated to her.

  13. Once again this story brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing girl, and so incredible that she is touching lives and changing lives even after she is gone. Thank you so much for sharing her with us.

  14. I signed up and ran the virtual 5k yesterday from Ringgold, GA. My 18 year old daughter has suffered from depression for 2 years and it can be devastating. Thank you for running and bringing awareness.

  15. such an inspirational story! Cameron is really amazing girl! Thanks for sharing this!

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