Cameron Gallagher was a bright and talented teenager. Although ever-smiling, she faced her own personal battles with depression and anxiety. She began to grow weary of keeping her struggles a private battle, and knew that there were many teens just like her who were in great pain behind closed doors. Her dream was to create a 5k race in her community to raise awareness of teenage depression. She began making plans for the race, and titled the race the SpeakUp5k in order to draw attention to the issue of teen depression. She wanted to let other teens like herself know that it was okay to “SpeakUp” about their personal battles.
“For you, I will never be afraid again.” I leaned down and kissed that spot right where the hairline met her forehead. I promised Cameron. I don’t break promises, especially to my children. There were many nights I laid in bed with Cameron holding her hands. She asked me to. She was afraid of herself, afraid of what she may do to herself in this dark place she wanted so bad to leave. So we held hands, alone in her bed. She did not need to be afraid, I had her.
There are so many out there laying in their beds afraid, alone and may not have a hand to hold. They don’t have hope to hold. I will hold their hand, I will hold their hope and I will fight for them with every stroke of the swim, every pedal of the bike and every step of the run. They deserve it, they are worth it all.
As the sun rises early race morning and I feel the fear of the swim creep into my veins I will close my eyes, I will remember the smell of her hair, the feel of her perfect skin and my promise I made to my girl, my Cameron. I will breathe in my promise and breathe out my resolve. Cameron will hold my hand. She will whisper in my ear “I’ve got you.” – I am counting on it.
When I cross the finish line, I will continue the race. The race full of purpose to bring awareness, education, help and most of all hope to all those out there fighting the good fight.
As Cameron's mom and Executive Director of the foundation, I am proud to say that the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation continually delivers on its mission. We have been blessed and humbled to see what we offer is truly life saving. The countless emails, personal letters of appreciation and visits to our office where people have bravely shared their stories and appreciation of our impact propel us to continue this very important work with both passion and compassion. We bring resources, tangible education and healthy life skills that positively improve mental health, balance and well being. We continue to erase stigmas and provide hope for those who suffer, their families and network who surround them. In RVA and beyond CKG offers innovative programs to teens and adolescents, as well as parents and caregivers. Whereas we could never capture the myriad of meaningful moments, the real connections that are made or the depth of our gratitude and enthusiasm for what is to come; we can sit back and reflect: Well done, CKG, my good and faithful servant.
Yes, well done but there is great need and much work to do. We believe it is unacceptable that 1 in 4 suffer, yet of that number, only 33% actually receive help. Suicide rates are climbing among young people at a horrifying rate. I believe the Cameron K Gallagher Foundation is an integral player to changing those numbers and changing society’s perception on teenage depression and anxiety. We can help our community become a proactive and positive influence instead of constantly having to be reactive to tragedy.
We all running from, or to, something. Make no mistake; we wake up daily with a purpose. Some of us are just barely in front of the demon. Others, miles ahead. Some run to calm their minds, feel the peace, share nature. Others need the physical pain offering up sacrifice to a cause. Their physical pain is a contribution. Their pain contribution is the only offering they have in the name of another.
Mine is a contribution. Mine is a deep need to feel pain in the name of Cameron. My contribution is an honor and a commitment. And… the pain becomes relief. The relief manifests achievement. Achievement becomes inspiration. Inspiration keeps a legacy alive. I’d run forever to keep Cameron’s legacy alive.
I changed my life on October 1, 2013, preparing for March 16, 2014 propelling me towards November 1, 2014. On October 1, 2013 I became vegan and made a commitment to live a healthy lifestyle forever. Grace and I completed the Miami Marathon comfortably in February 2014. March 16th is the day my life changed forever. My life will always be defined by me as before and after March 16th. My crucifix was attached, my burden delivered, my purpose instilled. I immediately signed up for Ironman Florida, November 1, 2014.
So here I am. In some ways, a shell of the man I was. Yet, in other ways, I’m now so much better than I ever was. Cameron has given me that gift. She took my heart, stripped away meaningless behavior and gave back a heart focused on good, purpose, love, awareness and achievement. My time on earth is now a gift, my time is dedicated, and my love is real. My endeavors have purpose and that purpose is fueled by being a husband, father, and now Chairman of a foundation that bears the name of my daughter, Cameron.
The Cameron K Gallagher Foundation has already delivered programming to over 8,000 teens in the Richmond community. We will triple those numbers easily in 2017. The need is great and my confidence in the capability for CKG to successfully answer to those needs as well as specifically tailoring programs to meet individual populations is strong. We have the passion and the talent on staff to make it happen. We have an extremely supportive, active and talented board who invest in the foundation’s success in a variety of means.
I see groundbreaking movements in the not so far off future of the Cameron K Gallagher Foundation as it strategically plans the expansion of its programs and curriculum, including our Mindful program that grew by 300% in a year. We are well on our way to being the gold standard in how we view, educate, and help those who suffer.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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