Athletics Magazine

Let’s Finish This

By Brisdon @shutuprun

Sometimes there is a story that can be life changing. Today, I offer you this post as a source of inspiration and as a reminder to appreciate the moment, to always “see” your children, to take risks and to finish what you have started, despite all odds.

You are aware of  the story of Cameron Gallagher, the sixteen year old who died moments after finishing the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach in March. She was the niece of my dear friend, Clair.

In the picture below, Cameron is at mile six of the race. It is unfathomable what would occur seven miles later as her parents watched her finish the race and gently caught her as she fell to the ground.


What you may not know is that before Cameron died, she struggled with depression, so much so that she missed school sometimes. Despite her struggles, she worked hard to lift her own spirits by journaling and finding inspirational quotes form songs, books and magazines. She got the idea to organize a 5K named Speak Up to help others struggling with childhood depression and to raise awareness.

After Cameron’s death, her parents, David and Grace, found stacks of papers in Cameron’s bedroom indicating that, unbeknownst to them, Cameron had been working on the 5K. She had reached out to sponsors and had done much of the legwork to put this race into place. Cameron’s parents decided that Cameron’s vision needed to still be fulfilled.

Today,  just two and a half months after Cameron’s tragic death, there is a launch party in Richmond for the Speak Up 5K, which will occur in September. One motto of the race is, “Let us finish what Cameron started.”

Race organizes from the Shamrock Half Marathon where Cameron died, have assembled the actual finish line where she collapsed for the launch party of the race. Those inspirational quotes that Cameron used as a life line are displayed on large screens in Cameron’s own handwriting. I just wish I could be there.


Since Cameron’s death, my friend Clair has told me that she believes Cameron was a sacrifice for a greater cause. She knows that Cameron has something to say and more to do. While she is not here in the flesh to make this happen, her actions before she died and her remaining determined spirit are ensuring that her work will still be done.

A statement from Cameron’s parents has made me look at my own children differently:

“We knew our Cameron the way other parents know their children. We know them as beautiful but flawed, caring but sometimes selfish and often aloof. We rarely get to see our children the way other people see them. We are so busy raising and educating them that we rarely get to see the positive effect they have on other people.”

In her death, what continues to be Cameron’s life commitment? (from the Speak Up 5K site):

 Fight the good fight, Finish the race, and Keep the faith. And do it with a smile, every day. 

Cameron woke up every day and had to fight to finish her race, and she needed faith to begin her fight. Learn from Cameron. Use her story to take your life’s burden and fight the good fight. Use her will-power and commitment to finish what you’ve started.

And most importantly, use her vision to have faith in your future. Have hope, be kind, and smile.


If you would like to sign up for the Speak Up 5K (either to run it in Richmond or to run it virtually), go HERE.

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