A letter of thanks from Equality Florida:
More than 500 guests packed TPepin’s Hospitality Centre for the 2018 Tampa Gala on February 24th, raising more than $380,000 to help advance LGBTQ equality in Florida! Many thanks to the generous sponsors, donors, and volunteers for helping create this amazing, annual event!
Designed by our Steering Committee with the support of Extravaganza Productions, TPepin’s was transformed into a light and airy coastal Florida scene. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres by Puff ‘n Stuff, open bars courtesy of Southern Glazer Wine & Spirits and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, and live and silent art auction items donated by generous artists and Equality Florida supporters. Throughout the evening, Mr. Lounge and his band entertained the crowd.
The evening’s program opened with insightful messages delivered by spoken word artists Mona B and Sam(ira) Obeid. After their performances, we presented the Ally for Equality Award to Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco and the Corporate Voice for Equality Award to Regions Bank. Speaking of awards, during a special sponsors’ reception before the gala, Gene Costa was recognized with our Charlie Hounchell Spirit of Service & Leadership Award and Jack Forsyth was presented our Youth Voice for Equality Award. All honorees have made extraordinary contributions to the LGBTQ community. To remind everyone why they were there, our CEO, Nadine Smith, delivered timely and inspirational remarks, outlining how important Equality Florida is to everyone in the room.
We ended our program with an exciting live auction that included amazing art, an album signed by Madonna herself, and a guitar signed by the late Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. In the end, the auction raised a whopping $24,200, and our cash ask right after the auction brought in $4,000! Many thanks to our live auctioneer, Neil Saffer, for inspiring such generosity from the crowd!
An event like this relies on the time, talent, and generosity of many folks in the Tampa community. That said, hats off to Mark Puskarich, Development Director for Equality Florida, the Tampa Gala Steering Committee and Host Committee for their commitment to ensuring the success of this event!
See you next year!
2018 Tampa Gala Steering Committee