Cameron Fizwater, remembered for bringing love and color to life, inspired 420 people to spend their Saturday morning running in the first ever Color Me Cameron 5K.
“We’re very happy that people would come out and celebrate Cameron’s life,” said Cameron’s mother, Terri Fitzwater-Palmore. “We are awed by the support and it’s unbelievable.”
Pulaski County High School senior Cameron died in a single-vehicle accident on Interstate 81, two months away from graduation. The 5K run was a way to remember him.
“It’s a celebration of Cameron,” said Sam Norris, who was a pallbearer at Cameron’s funeral.
“He was a very athletic person, if only there was a creek here enough to kayak in, but we have to settle for running,” Norris said smiling.
Norris did love that the run was a color run, a good fit for Cameron.
“He was a real tie-dye-y person,” Norris said smiling. “I always made fun of him for it.
Other friends of Cameron, including Abby Hodges and Tori Kegley, agreed that it’s a great way to remember Cameron.
“This is a happy time,” said Norris, who was surrounded by a smiling group of Cameron’s friends. “Especially after two days ago, the day of his death, that was a downer. This is a much better way to brighten everyone’s sprits.”
Many of the community who turned out to participate had never personally met Cameron, but were drawn by the 5K and the funds going to a good cause.
“A lot of us came out today because it’s the first time we’ve ever run a 5K,” said Kerry Alechko, referring to her group. “So we started working back in October and getting prepared, and so this one was the first one that we could get together and actually do, and it’s for a really great cause.”
Some participants liked the idea of spending Saturday doing something healthy, while helping local high school students.
“I wanted to get some activity in,” said participant Heather Carroll. “I didn’t know Cameron, but I know people that did,”
“I met Cameron once,” said Jordan Rockwell. “But I’m running because of the scholarships, I like that it’s staying here.”
The run even brought out college students from Radford and Virginia Tech.
Brother and sister Mark and Kelsey Hodges from Virginia Tech wanted to run their first 5K, and the Cameron run was a great opportunity to do this.
“I thought it’d be really cool to support Cameron fund,” said Kelsey Hodges. “It’s really cool that they’re doing this.”
Ben Morgan, who finished first at a solid 20 minutes, said he thinks that the race is a great event for the community.
“In the case of somebody dying,” Morgan said. “Things like this aren’t for the dead, it’s for the living.”
And that’s exactly where the proceeds from the run will go—to the living.
In Cameron’s honor, four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to graduating Pulaski seniors to help with college expenses.
Cameron’s happy spirit touched many people, including those who only knew his story.
Kirol Collins and Kay Barkwelll from West Virginia were some of the many who didn’t know Cameron, but were touched by him.
“I never met Cameron, I went to college with his father,” Collins said. “After his death, I couldn’t get over it and I didn’t know why, because I’d never met the boy, and so I wanted to do something to help.”
Barkwell, after hearing what happened from Collins, wanted Terri to know that other people cared, even if they didn’t know Cameron.
Barkwell, who runs the non-profit Horses with Hearts, challenged her Facebook friends to donate a dollar to the Cameron fund. Collins took it upon herself to match what Barkwell raised. Together they raised a total of $2,400, providing enough to fund nearly two and a half scholarships.
“No one person can do a whole lot, but together, you get a big effect,” Collins said.