Camden Collins SpeaksUp

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When the sun rose on the morning of October 22, you could feel the excitement in the air. My name is Camden Collins and I sang the national anthem at the first ever SpeakUp5k Tampa. I have been friends with Madeleine Gallagher, Cameron’s cousin, since our 6th grade year, the year Cameron passed away. While I never met Cameron personally, I was familiar with her quotes that hung on Madeleine’s walls and I had listened to stories about her.  Attending the SpeakUp5k made me realize that I see Cameron every day, through the Gallagher family.

I’ve always had a passion for singing, whether it meant singing at chapel during school, talent shows, or even school productions. I had only sung the national anthem at my middle school’s 5k fundraiser, but despite my lack of experience, I was beyond honored when Mr. Gallagher asked me if I would sing our nation’s song at the SpeakUp5k Tampa.

When I arrived that morning at Al Lopez Park, it was 7:00 am and while the sun wasn’t shining yet, spirits were glowing. I remember that I hadn’t planned on running, but with the encouragement of my friends and inspiration from Cameron, I couldn’t resist. After I sang the national anthem, the race was on. Before that morning, I knew briefly about Cameron’s story, but afterwards, I was an expert. I saw all of the plans Cameron had drafted in action. Things like cheer zones and quote alley uplifted me while I ran, or walked, my heart out. I think the most important thing I took away from that experience was that, while Cameron was only given a short time in this world by the Lord, she did so much that will last lifetimes longer than her own.


Katherine Cook