ST. PETERSBURG — After raising $560,000 for its inaugural run on March 4, St Petersburg’s Skyway 10K will be returning in 2019 and will have the support of governmental agencies for years to come, run organizers said Tuesday.
The run, which had around 7,000 runners participate in its first year, donated 100 percent of its proceeds to the Armed Forces Families Foundation (AFFF), a non-profit organization that supports service men, women and their families.
In an event at Tropicana Field, run organizers presented a check to the AFFF on Tuesday, while also announcing March 3, 2019 — a Sunday — as the date for next year’s run.
"The support we’ve received has greatly enriched the Skyway 10k. We can now plan for a longer term and arrange for more sponsorships," said James Judge, a spokesman for the Skyway 10K.
Some of that long-term support will come directly from Gov. Rick Scott, who offered to create a five-year agreement to support the Skyway 10K. The deal also calls for the Florida Department of Transportation and the Coast Guard to help plan future runs.
A possible reason for the high turnout this year was the purpose behind it to raise money for the AFFF.
Thaddeus Foster, an AAAF board member, said in a release that the money from 2018’s run more than doubled the funds that were previously available to the AFFF annually.
Though it’s a national foundation, the AFFF contributed to Tampa as recently as Nov. 2017, building a $47,534 playground at MacDill Air Force Base for the 500-plus military families who live there. The new playground replaced an aging one, according to the AFFF’s website, with the new structure being comprised of two slides, two rock walls, a net climber, challenge ladder and tunnel.
In the release, race organizers said the 2019 race will donate 100 percent of proceeds from registration fees to the AFFF.
"One thing that’s so amazing about this specific foundation is that every dollar raised goes directly to the projects they are working on for military families," said Judge. "So we are raising money for projects like new playgrounds for children on military bases and technology upgrades to military schools."
The number of participants in 2019 will be increased from 7,000 to 8,000, race organizers said. They also plan to offer an RV and overnight parking lot at Tropicana Field for participants traveling to participate.
If the run path stays the same as it did for its inaugural go, the 2019 race will begin on Interstate 275 at the last rest area south of the Skyway Bridge and end at the first rest area on the bridge’s north side. Race organizers hope to make the race an annual event and sell it out yearly, just as they did ion 2018.
With the support of the City of St. Petersburg and Gov. Scott, Judge said that the Skyway 10K will be able to better organize the races and sponsorships ahead of time, which should allow them to increase their donation size to the AFFF.
"We are excited to continue with the Skyway 10K for these years to come and continue to provide support to the AFFF. To be able to raise the most money possible for military families is the goal of this whole event," said Judge.
Times staff writer Devin Rodriguez contributed to this report.