Monday marked one year since a Henrico teen died after running the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. Cameron Gallagher, 16, had just finished running 13.1 miles when she collapsed at the finish line.
“She crossed that finish line and she hugged Abby and she smiled,” Cameron’s mother, Grace Gallagher, recalled about that fateful day in March. Cameron later died from an undiagnosed heart condition, cardiac arrhythmia, or, an irregular heartbeat.
“Cameron was a larger than life personality,” her father, David Gallagher said. “There are very, very hard moments and… We miss Cameron terribly.”
On Friday, the first Shamrock Marathon since Cameron’s death will be held in Virginia Beach once again. On Sunday, her parents plan to run the same 13.1 mile course at their daughter did last year.
“I would say we’re very anxious about going back,” her father said. Cameron’s parents have created team, “Speak-Up” and there are more than 200 supporters from across the country that will be running with them. Many of them will be wearing special shirts to help celebrate Cameron’s life.
“What I really want everyone to focus is that this was a beautiful journey for her and she finished with a smile,” Cameron’s mom, Grace, said.
Even though her parents say it will be difficult mentally and physically David Gallagher said his daughter’s teachings are helping him and his wife get through it. “Cameron taught us how to deal with these difficult situations and that is, you put one foot in front of the other and you finish.”
Each team member has also pledged to raise at least $131 dollars for the 13.1 miles Cameron ran. It will be donated to the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, which was formed after she passed away.
The mission of the foundation is to combat teenage depression and anxiety, something Cameron suffered from. Right now, the foundation is working with school districts to develop programs geared towards teens that promote positive attitudes and combat the negative stigma associated with depression.
“This is just the beginning. I can feel it. I know she is moving this world,” Cameron’s mom said.
Her parents are also working to expand the “Speak-Up 5k” race that was Cameron’s dream before she passed away. The focus of the race is to promote Cameron’s message. Last September the inaugural run was held in Richmond. In May, the “Speak-Up 5K” will debut in San Diego. Her parents hope they can eventually expand it other cities throughout the nation.