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.