Have you ever heard about a fundraiser and thought to yourself I want to help this cause in anyway I can? When I heard about the Charity Youth Music Concert for the CKG Foundation benefiting The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay I immediately agreed to become involved in sharing it with you. I didn’t agree because both of my children are youth musicians. I didn’t agree because I know the organizer of this event, Dr. Ngoc Pham, and am in awe of what she’s doing. (For the record I am in absolute awe of her and the work she’s put into making this event happen.) I didn’t even agree because of my belief in the work of both organizations, which again I am wholeheartedly behind. I volunteered to share this because I am a mother.
As a mother you want to spare your children and other children from pain and hurt. You want them to have people they can talk comfortably to. Mothers want protect each child, it’s our gut reaction. Even the unpreventable things..well as a mom your first reaction is that you want to help..to fix..to solve. Parents want resources to be available for any child that needs them. We want education, prevention if possible, treatment options and support if needed. As a mother, you want each child to have every opportunity to live their best life into adulthood. The core of this blog is united motherhood. I believe we are all united on this journey and supporting children and those that can make a difference in their lives is part of that.
This all being said, I know you moms and dads are nodding along. You want this too, I know you do. I want to tell you about this event happening in Westchase, Florida but first I want to tell you a story. The story I want to share with you is about a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Cameron Gallagher. Cameron is where this all began and so this article should begin with her too.
Cameron Gallagher was an amazing young soul. She was a bright light in many peoples lives, very supportive of others and strong in many ways. She made a lot of people smile, she cheered for others, she gave kindness where she could. Cameron saw the good and the strengths in those she knew and she wanted them to see it too. She was beloved by her family and friends in her community in Virginia.
Cameron also struggled with depression and anxiety privately. Did you know that 1 in 5 teens do? She did because she was one of them. She also knew that there must be countless others just like her. She began training for a half marathon while planning to organize her own 5K to raise awareness for teen mental health after completion of the marathon. She wanted the other teens who also struggled to know they could talk about it. That they were not alone.
Cameron completed the half marathon she had trained hard for, only to then moments later pass away from an undiagnosed heart condition. Her grieving family pledged to bring her dream of bringing to light these issues. They want to make Cameron’s plan to help teens “speak up” occur and set forth coordinating the 5K Cameron had hoped to plan. They would make it happen in honor of her.
The first 5K took place in 2014 with over 10,000 runners from her community participating. There are now different CKG races annually that take place in San Diego, Tampa, Nashville, Richmond, Virginia and Washington, DC will be added this spring. Cameron’s dream has become a reality and has continued to be supported each year. The foundation named for Cameron has gone beyond the original dream of a 16 year old aspiring to help those like her. The reach of her dream just keeps growing!
Dr. Ngoc Pham knows this story, she was inspired by it. She became acquainted with Cameron’s uncle Dennis Gallagher 3 years ago and heard about the work that was being done by the SpeakUp Foundation. She had recently been touched by this issue in her own family-a family member of hers had lost their child at 21 years old due to mental illness. She had seen the effects firsthand in her own life and is also a mother of a teenager herself- so it hits close to home for her. The question was how could she help?
Ngoc began hosting fundraisers at her medspa. She had raffles and giveaways to publicize the charity and raise funds. Her teenage daughter is also now involved-she acts as one of the student ambassadors for SpeakUp along with 10-12 other student ambassadors in 10 different schools in Tampa. She did what many of us should do when we are inspired, she got involved!
Then something amazing happened, Ngoc’s youngest child Jacob-a talented pianist was featured on a local Fox 13 news station and separately in a newspaper article. Being the proud mother that she is, she hung up the article and told her clients about it. Many of those clients stated if they could ever come and watch him play they would love to. She started to think about combining two passions-her passion and pride for her son and his music and her passion for her involvement in SpeakUp.
Dr. Pham began putting out feelers in to the community and the response was very positive. Jacob was actually her inspiration for a way that she could contribute even more towards publicizing and raising donations for the CKG (Cameron K. Gallagher) Foundation. The idea was that there were many other students like Jacob-young musicians in the community who also love music and performing. Why not find a way to give them all a space to perform in her community in a concert that would benefit the foundation that she supports? So she began to plan.
The outcome of all of her planning is an upcoming concert at the Westchase Golf Club on September 8th from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be 20 student musicians performing, ranging in age from 6 years old to college students. They will have singers, pianists, guitar, flute, saxophone, drummers and many more-most are residents of Westchase. Some great local businesses have donated towards making this a successful fundraiser including food donations from Catch 23, Southern Bay Bakery, Flamestone Grill, Mother’s Restaurant, Hot Tuna Sushi, Goldies Goodies Bakery and Jasmine Thai Restaurant. Other vendors are also offering up gift certificates for the raffle- Sushi Alive Restaurant, Simply Elegant Boutique, Tre Medspa, Kay Nails and Vo Nails. This community is rallying behind this concert from a place of incredible support.
The goal is to raise a total of $20,000 between this benefit concert and the annual CKG SpeakUp 5K that’s happening on October 13th. I spoke to Melissa Philips, Race Director of the CKG Foundation about the 5K. She informed me that the student ambassador program for the races began last year, the students continue to step up and amaze those in the foundation with their energy and excitement to spread the mission. This year a new element for these student ambassadors for the race is that they have taken on finding volunteers and fundraising as well. She wanted to express that this race means so much to these students.
(Cameron’s parents David and Grace pictured above in one of the races. I’m told that they stand at the finish line of each race cheering on every participant.)
This race is open to all-all ages and fitness levels who want to come out, have fun and help raise awareness in a positive manner. She added “We invite everyone to come to both events and learn about the foundation and how we are working to change the stigma. We think the concert is a cool way to engage the community and we are thrilled about both upcoming events.”
But what can you do, how can you help? The first thing you can do if you live near Westchase is to purchase a ticket for the concert and come out and hear some great music while helping SpeakUp extend their reach.
Earlybird tickets are on sale now until August 31st for $35 a ticket. On September 1st until the date of the performance (September 8th) the regular ticket prices are $40 a ticket.
What if you can’t make the concert but also want to help? You can visit the foundation’s website http://www.ckgfoundation.org to make a donation in any amount. You can also find out information about the upcoming 5K at Al Lopez Park (link for this event http://www.ckgfoundation.org/tampa/) on October 13th. There will be food, fun zones and music among other fun things to see and do. The course goes through a beautiful scenic park and you can bring a dog (leashed), your stroller, your friends. You can even get a team together to participate in this event.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay will receive all funds raised and you can find more information about this organization on their website https://www.crisiscenter.com/contact/. They had this to say about this event “We are so thankful to Dr. Pham for organizing this amazing event showcasing the musical talents of local youth! Funds raised through this event and the SpeakUp 5K will help support Gateway Services at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. We operate a contact center where teens and young adults can receive emotion support and connections to community resources 24 hours a day. It all starts with a simple phone call to 2-1-1 or 1-800-273-TALK!” Said Clara Reynolds, President & CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
I know this article might appear to be outside my usual subject matter but as I said earlier it really isn’t. I believe in the goals and efforts of these organizations. I know they change lives daily. I believe in Cameron’s dream, the dream that began this story. I also support my friend, Ngoc and those like her. I believe in involvement and I hope you will be inspired to become involved in some way with theses events. Please help get the word out, share this article with anyone you think should hear about these events and organizations! I’d also like to add that if you know Dr. Ngoc Pham, tell her how proud you are of her..I plan to! Janet