Many of you know the story; some of you have lived the story; a few of you unfortunately may live the story in the future - watching your teen spiral into the darkness of depression fueled by the pressures of a world that didn't exist when we were younger. I'm sure many of you routinely wonder as I do - how in the world would we have fared during a time when every movement is filmed or photgraphed....where everyone's life is on display for all to see....where mistakes are documented and die slow deaths only after every peer, teacher, youth minister, parent, etc. has been privvy to every detail through social media? New research has just concluded that social media and increased screen time have exponentially increased the rate of anxiety disorders in our young people. That surely would've been me if I was a teenager in 2018. It is with these thoughts and with our love for the Gallagher family and Cameron's legacy that we come to you again and ask for your support as the SpeakUp team once again comes to Virginia Beach to continue Cameron's story where her physical body moved on but her spirit still lives strong.
As you all probably remember Cameron's legacy in demystifying the stigma of teenage depression began at the Shamrock on March 16, 2014. It was here on our boardwalk four years ago where she fought the good fight, where she finished her last race and where her family kept the faith. While the feelings of those days are still present and raw, their drive to keep Cameron alive in all of us is still going strong. From their pain, David, Grace, Andrew, Reilly, Sydney and Mitchell built a monument in the form of the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, its goal being to raise awareness, educate and help those battling teenage depression. The love and faith is almost palpable in the photo above; I snapped that picture in 2015 after Grace and David crossed the finish line a year after Cameron finished her race. There's not a day when that photo doesn't elicit the raw emotions of loss in me. But I wish you all could meet the Gallagher family, a family who has turned pain into purpose, grief into determination, memories into a legacy. Because Cameron powered through her sadness and channeled that grief into plans for a neighbhorhood 5k, many teenagers may now not have to face this battle alone. Help make Cameron's goal a reality. Chris, Courtney, Caroline, Cabell and Caitlyn speak up to support Cameron's legacy. Please consider supporting her cause; we appreciate you getting behind us as we follow Cameron down that boardwalk on March 18th.