about Andy Welch
Andy has been competitively cycling since 2006, earning top honors in endurance races that range from 6 hours to 1000 miles. He does the long endurance races because he is drawn to and curious about both the mental fortitude and physical stamina needed to complete the courses. He loves going up mountains but fears steep descents. He relies on humor, not complaints, during the long nights on the bike. His childhood with a dad serving in the Navy, helped to make him a focused and driven adult. But, don't be fooled, he will shed a tear every time the SPCA commercial is aired or he sees a child hugging their parent at a military homecoming.
Over the years, friends and supporters of his cycling have viewed him as being “mentally tough” because he could overcome seemingly everything. Nobody knew he was silently suffering with depression. It all caught up to him after his greatest cycling accomplishment: finishing the 1000 mile No Country for Old Men race in October 2014.
He hit bottom. He was scared and clinging to anyone he could so he wouldn’t have to be alone. Until one day, when he was working as the shop manager at Endorphin Fitness and his boss/mentor asked, “Are you depressed?” Giving Andy the opening in a safe environment to finally ask for help. His silent 10-year battle with depression was now in the open.
Shortly, after starting treatment for his depression, he reached out to the Cameron K. Gallagher (CKG) Foundation. He knew it was the right time to do his ultimate mission, but he wanted it to be for something bigger than himself. Together, Andy and the CKG Foundation announced that he would be competing in Race Across America and using it as a platform to raise money for the programs offered at the CKG Foundation.
Andy's goal isn't to be seen as the "guy with depression on a bike." Instead, he wants to be a symbol of someone coping with depression. He wants to help rid the stigma that depressed people are somehow weaker or not mentally strong. He wants others to know that depression isn't something you have to hide from or be ashamed about. It is an illness, but one that can be managed with effective treatment. He doesn't want sympathy, he wants to bring others out of silence so they can get help before its too late.
about the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation
On March 16, 2014, Cameron Gallagher and her friend were running in their first ½ marathon – the Shamrock ½ marathon in Virginia Beach, VA. Tragically, after Cameron crossed the finish line, she hugged her friend, had her photo taken, smiled, and fell towards the ground. That day she died of an undiagnosed heart condition.
After she died, her parents found complete plans for a race she wanted to create: the sponsorship request, the speeches she would give, etc. Cameron wanted to “speak up” for positive causes and challenge people to “be nice.” She envisioned the race inspiring people to become better athletes, husbands, wives, siblings, friends or community members. She wanted people to speak up and help others in need. Her parents had no idea that she had been working on this.
The truth is that Cameron struggled and she battled sadness. There were times when it got so hard on her that she couldn’t go to school. Her parents stayed with her, but it was her battle to fight. They worried for her and got her help. But every day, even when it was at its worse, Cameron woke up committed to fighting her good fight. She never quit and was constantly developing new strategies to cope with her sadness. She would fill notebooks with positive quotes, she would write them on paper and hang them on her walls; they were all over the house. Everywhere she was she had positive quotes written. She fought every day to become the person she knew she could be: a happy and positive leader. Little did she know that is how the entire world saw her.
To fulfill their daughter’s dream and legacy, they created the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation with the mission to be a positive force that works to cultivate awareness and understanding of teenage depression and anxiety. And, as she planned, every September, thousands of runners gather and run in Cameron's Speak Up 5K-race.