St. Pete Pride has cancelled their 5K race scheduled for Saturday, June 25 in Gulfport due to low registration numbers and as a show of solidarity toward a larger one in Lake Mary that was organized within days to raise money for the victims of the mass shooting in the Pulse LGBT nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, June 12 that left 49 people dead and 53 others wounded.
Canceling the second annual race “was not an easy decision,” said Michael DaCosta, St. Pete Pride race administrator. Registration numbers “were not meeting the goal. We had 160 racers and we needed 300 to break even.”
St. Pete Pride released a statement late in the afternoon on Thursday, June 16 that said, “the 5K is cancelled so not to detract from a similar event being run in the city of Lake Mary. This is an official race where all proceeds will be going to the [OneOrlando Fund]. St. Pete Pride, Pulse Strong, and the race facilitators do not want to dilute or take away from another event that is for a community that just suffered a huge loss.”
Full refunds for local racers are being issued through Eventbright, said DaCosta.
Plans are already underway for St. Pete Pride’s 2017 race, which will be in Gulfport and paired with other events designed to accent the city, said DaCosta. Tentatively, it will be held on the weekend before the annual parade as part of an entire “field day festival that may possibly involve food tastings” in the Casino. “The city has been very accommodating and gracious. We’re looking for sponsorships to help cover the costs” for next year.
The Lake Mary event known as the Orlando United 5K (Facebook: OrlandoUnited5K) was capped at 1,300 running race slots by the city’s permit and “was sold out in 15 hours,” said organizer Jennifer Florida, owner of Final Mile Race Management, which is sponsoring the event. This is more than four times the size of the one that had been planned for Gulfport. Runners paid $30 to participate while virtual race registrations are $20 and will remain open through race day, which is Saturday, June 25. To register, visit finalmileracemanagement.com/race-events/2963
The race starts at 7 a.m. on 4th Street between E. Crystal Lake Ave. and W. Lakeview Ave. in Lake Mary. Early packet pick up is on Friday, June 24 from noon to 5 p.m. at Front Runner Sports, 1061 S. Sun Drive.
“People are trying to make sense of a tragedy,” she said. “As runners, we need our emotions released. We need to feel like we’re doing something.”
All of the services for the Lake Mary race are being donated to maximize the money that will be given to the OneOrlando Fund, she said.
The fund was announced on June 14 by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer who said on the city’s website its purpose “is to provide a way to help respond to the needs of our community, now and in the time to come, after the effects of the Pulse tragedy.” According to the website, it is a project of Strengthen Orlando, Inc., a non-profit corporation “created for the purpose of supporting and starting projects to strengthen the Orlando community.” To donate, visit oneorlando.org.
For the Orlando United 5K, “people are donating all services,” said Florida. The city of Lake Mary “is volunteering their employees to help” with marketing, organizing and law enforcement. Other people are donating photography, face painting and DJ services.
Said Florida, “one hundred percent of the proceeds” from the race will be donated.