Speak Up: How These Amazing Parents Dealt with the Death of Their Daughter

Over the last decade, I have met many parents who have lost their children. It is almost impossible to put this kind of sadness into words. Yet in every case, these parents have moved through unimaginable grief by putting love into action.

Their lives become a manifestation of the love they have for the child they’ve lost. I’ve seen it so many times, but in no way, quite as powerfully as the work of David and Grace Gallagher.

Their beautiful daughter Cameron battled anxiety and depression, as many teenagers today do. And as she learned how to manage it, she fell in love with running. It brought a liberty to her pain, a freedom from her suffering.

I’ve run my entire life and have marked almost every meaningful event with a run—from every heartache to every celebration. In the early years of this work, which were gripped with fear and isolating, it was my husband and running friends who held me together, particularly a 6 time Ironman champion. The power of movement and community is strong.

So when my own child began to battle with anxiety, I bought her some running shoes. “Come with me,” I told her. She was in the 8th grade.

“I’m not a runner, Mom,” she said.

“You can be,” I said. And I had her run a mile with me. The mile became two and then three and by the beginning of her freshman year in high school, she joined the cross country team.

Cameron Gallagher knew this before her life was cut short.  She died suddenly at the age of 16 at the end of a half marathon. She had found that she could use running to liberate her from her sadness and anxiety.  She knew it could help others.  And she envisioned a fun run, a 5K, family style, un-timed race to help others and to shine a light on those dealing with depression.

When she died, the Gallaghers turned their pain into purpose, putting love into action, and created the Speak Up 5K Series in memory of their gorgeous girl.

Today, 1 in 5 teens struggle with mental illness but only 1 in 3 will get help.

When I saw the video below, with David and Grace speaking up on this, my first thought was, “This could be any of us.”

And then I thought, “This is us.” These are our friends, our children, our future.

What they have done is extraordinary. What they are doing is a gift to countless families. Please take the time to watch their presentation, to talk about depression and anxiety with your kids and to get help.

We are comfortable and familiar with coaches for everything in our lives—from finances, to French cooking, to football.

Get someone to coach you in this if you or your kid needs help. Coaches make us stronger.

And speak up. One teenager had a vision. Her parents are living it.

When we have the courage to become a voice for change, it is incredible what can happen.

You can learn more about Cameron’s Story here and how to get involved in the Speak Up 5K Series. 

lauren west