EPIC raises $17K with Balance Tampa Bay, becomes 5K beneficiary

ABOVE: Balance Tampa Bay presents EPIC with $17K. Photo courtesy EPIC.

TAMPA | Balance Tampa Bay (BTB) and Empath Partners in Care (EPIC) announced Aug. 29 that their annual masquerade ball raised $17,000 for the latter organization’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

The gathering raised $16,000 last year and has raised more than $80,000 for the nonprofit’s essential services since its inception. The fifth annual event, “Fearless: An Unmasquerade,” was held July 27 at the Tampa River Center.

The organizations each celebrated the fundraising total via social media:

“I think this was one of the most organized years we have had,” EPIC Executive Director Joy Winheim tells Watermark. “EPIC is so grateful to Balance Tampa Bay for all of their hard work and for the continued support that they have given to us. We value what they do for us and for the rest of the community.  They are truly and amazing group of individuals.”

While EPIC played a more direct role in the masquerade’s planning than it had in previous years, BTB retained creative control over this year’s fundraiser. “This was by far one of the best years for Masquerade and it’s only getting better,” Event Chair Ryan Young says. “This partnership has helped take the event to the next level and we are so excited to see what the future holds.”

EPIC Special Events Coordinator Molly Robison agrees, noting to expect details about the sixth annual event soon. Ahead of that, however, the organization will cultivate a new partnership with Tampa Bay’s Great Gay 5K.

The 5K was launched in 2017 by directors R.J. Huebert and Claire Selius, who led The Great Mother’s Day Race and The Great Father’s Day Race in Tampa and Sarasota in 2012. It exists for the LGBTQ community, its allies and “those who love to exercise,” and a portion of its net proceeds will benefit EPIC with its third outing on Pass-A-Grille Beach Sept. 14.

“The Great Gay 5K is a welcoming experience that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community,” Selius said in a statement. “It’s inclusive, and more importantly, a super fun event! There will be music, food, epic race medals, awards and prizes, and a unique tank top for all supporters. If you want to show your support for this community, come on out to Pass-a-Grille Beach.”

“I love the concept of a fun, open, celebratory event welcoming everyone in an amazing location,” Robison says. “I encourage everyone—runners, walkers and early morning beach strollers—to join us.”

The Great Gay 5K will be held Sept. 14 from 7-10 a.m. For registration details and more information, visit GreatGay5K.com. To learn more about EPIC and BTB, visit MyEpic.org and BalanceTampaBay.org.

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