Family, Friends to Live Cameron Gallagher’s Dream

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – On Saturday the community will come together to live out the dream of a Douglas Freeman High School student who died suddenly from cardiac arrhythmia after completing the Shamrock Half-Marathon in March.

Cameron Gallagher had been tirelessly planning the SpeakUp 5K to raise awareness about an issue so close to her heart.

“She was always very keenly aware of the stigma that children and adults had on depression, and it was something she was very, very frustrated with,” Cameron’s father Dave Gallagher says.

He remembers his 16-year-old daughter for the changes she was determined to make. Cameron suffered from depression on and off, and each time she found strength at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children. It’s why she was organizing a 5K to benefit the VTCC and encourage others like herself, as the name says, to speak up.

“Because of the stigma which is attached to mental illness, many of them do not seek treatment until things really get out of control,” says Dr. Bela Sood, Professor of Psychiatry at VCU and Chair of the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the VCU Medical Center.

Dr. Sood adds that one in five people suffers from a mental illness, and 80% can lead productive lives with various therapies. She says help is available. “It’s like a checkup, like a physical checkup. If there are any concerns, seeking that assistance is the best gift you can give yourself and your family.”

Says Dave Gallagher about his daughter, “Even when she was hurting the most, she was most active in helping other people, and that parallels maybe to how my family is dealing with our pain in that losing a child is a terrible, terrible thing, but we’re trying to channel that frustration and conflict and pain into doing something good and having that positive effect on the world that Cameron did.

He says Cameron’s family and friends are now working to execute her vision to inspire others to be kinder and motivate those who have not been very active to participate in this 5K and take it one step at a time.

The SpeakUp 5K is Saturday, September 6 at Byrd Park. Walk up registrations are welcome. The race begins at 9am.

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

Julie Basinski