“When you cross the finish line you will realize you did not just finish a race. You did not attend an event. You have been part of an experience, a movement.” – Executive Director of CKG Foundation, Grace Gallagher
Coming up this Saturday, September 7th, 4,000 members of the community (and counting) will join together at Byrd Park for the 6th annual SpeakUp5k to help raise awareness of teenage depression and anxiety. This year, the race will incorporate the beautiful grounds of Maymont into part of the course.
(Not signed up yet? No worries – tickets are still available here!)
The SpeakUp5k truly is a journey. For those not familiar with the race, the SpeakUp5k celebrates Cameron Gallagher and her dream normalizing conversations about teenage depression, anxiety, and mental illness. It’s a non-intimidating, family-friendly morning filled with hope, cheer, and spirit.
The race serves as the main awareness driver and fundraising component of the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, which provides mental health resources to teenagers and families in the greater Richmond area.
Designed by Cameron Gallagher herself, the racecourse is built for pure fun, with silly string stations, a pumped-up rave tent, live music, and a 100-foot water slide all nestled in different sections of the course. The race isn’t timed, so participants can join these activities at their leisure. Attendees will also travel through “Quote Alley,” a walkway decorated with Cameron’s quotes and inspiring mantras. Many take time in this section to reflect on their own personal journeys.
This is an event that refuses to be affected by the weather – and it hasn’t. During the second annual Richmond SpeakUp5k race, a real grey and rainy day, David Gallagher made a realization stating:
“This is a perfect metaphor for the race. Let us bring sunshine to rain.”
Strollers and wheelchairs are welcome, parking is easy, and food and drinks are all plentiful. “We don’t want people to worry about ANYTHING on race day,” says David. Though it’s a morning of reflection, openness, and realness, it’s most certainly not a morning of stress.
“No matter how we feel, it is the love and support of those we surround ourselves with that gets us through the days.”– Cameron Gallagher
The SpeakUp5k is a bright, fun, silly, and encouraging morning. No judgments, no stigma, just fun! It’s a morning for people and families to come together and “Speak Up” for those who are suffering, for those who are battling depression and anxiety, and to challenge people to visibly and vocally support one another.
Since the initial race in 2014, the SpeakUp5k has expanded across the country. Currently, the CKG Foundation is hosting races in Nashville, Tampa, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
What does the SpeakUp5k fund?
By joining the SpeakUp5k, you can make a significant impact on a teenager’s life. Funded by this event, CKG offers free mental health programs to teenagers throughout the community of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Many of these programs are brought into local schools and specially-requested locations. Currently, these programs include:
- CKG Chat and Chill – Offering trust-building and stress relief to students with limited access to mental wellness support.
- Mindful Mondays – Mindful practice open to all middle school and high school students, held at locations throughout RVA.
- Parent Chat Night– Held alongside Mindful Mondays, this is a gathering of parents for open discussion around mental health and wellness topics.
- CKG Speakers Bureau– CKG provides speakers by request to promote change, advance its mission, and support individuals and organizations whose work and messages align with theirs.
- CKG Yoga– Offering free yoga classes to reduce stress and increase focus for students, teachers, and families, led by certified yoga instructors and held at CKG offices, as well as at various school and community sites.
- CKG Community Film Screenings– CKG canvasses independent film offerings from national and international sources to bring to local communities at no charge with secured sponsorships.
If you’re interested in any of these programs or would like to learn more about the CKG Foundation: