20:01 PM

5K runners take strides to support United Way Suncoast

For seven years in a row, thousands of runners registered, lined up and ran 3.1 miles at the annual TPA 5K on the Runway benefiting United Way Suncoast.

This year, COVID-19 had different plans for the well-known race, but runners still took their marks, got set and made strides towards the cause, already helping to raise $17,273.83 for the nonprofit.

When the Airport announced this year’s race was cancelled, they presented participants with the option to convert their registration fees to raffle ticket purchases. Raffle tickets are available for each of the following: roundtrip tickets on Silver, Spirit, Delta and JetBlue along with a model Airbus plane and gift basket and can be purchased until April 18.

“The impact from the 5K on the Runway is immense and goes far above and beyond the significant financial contribution,” said Michael Lewallen, United Way Suncoast Senior Relationship Manager. “The hugely popular race gives us exposure to many people who would not otherwise have any knowledge of United Way Suncoast and the important role we play in the community.”

Since its inception, the Airport’s 5K on the Runway alone has helped donate more than $500,000 to United Way Suncoast. These funds are typically used to provide financial, educational and food support to the community. Recently, the organization has switched gears to provide resources to those impacted by COVID-19 in the community. By providing food banks, childcare and informational assistance, the non-profit is moving fast to support the region through this uncertain time.

"Since early March when social distancing became the norm, United Way Suncoast has turned our primary focus to helping those most negatively affected by coronavirus," Lewallen said. "Losing their jobs, even for a week or two, let alone months, is catastrophic. We created our COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to make sure these individuals and families can access food, make rent or mortgage payments, pay their utility bills and much more.”

Throughout the partnership between United Way Suncoast and TPA, the Airport has also contributed more than $1 million to the organization through employee giving campaigns.

The airline ticket raffle is still open, and purchases are available. Winners will be drawn on April 20. United Way Suncoast is also accepting donations for the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Please visit volunteer Suncoast for ways that you can safely help and to access the complete list of requested items.