Chasing Pride and Wellbeing: Night Runners WPB Pride 5k A Huge Success

Photo by Arnauld Sylvain.

Despite early heavy rains, the skies cleared just in time for the 4th Annual Pride 5k in West Palm Beach. The race, presented by Night Runners West Palm Beach, took place at the waterfront park in downtown on June 8. This year, the event featured a Health & Wellness Expo highlighting many health and wellness resources and local LGBTQ businesses.

Local tattoo artist Maddox Max and author Liam Lipham showcased their work, emphasizing the need for diverse and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ businesses to reach the community.

“It’s important to come to these types of events to get my business out there and make sure that the community knows I’m here to serve them,” Max said.

Commenting on the success of their first-ever Pride Expo, Night Runner’s board president, Ryan Thompson, added, “We wanted to challenge ourselves this year … we want to see this organization grow and grow.”

Over 280 runners and walkers participated in the race, many with supporters and families in tow. Runners and walkers gathered at the starting line to hear remarks from West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James and former Night Runners board member, YouTube personality, and emcee RogerThat.

The route took participants along the South Flagler Drive waterfront, where friends and residents cheered on participants with posters, chalk drawings, and music, creating an atmosphere of celebration and solidarity. The race kicked off with a spirited start courtesy of the Cheer Fort Lauderdale performers. Participants of all ages and abilities took to the streets, some aiming for personal bests and others simply enjoying the camaraderie and community support.

The first-place finisher, Bryan Sharkey, 36, completed the 5K in 17 minutes, 45 seconds.

Before and after the race, attendees explored booths presenting a variety of health and fitness options, nutritional advice, and mental health resources. The expo also included local artisans, LGBTQ advocacy groups, and community organizations, providing information and fostering connections within the community.

Notably, Oneblood’s Big Red Bus was present at the event, a welcome sight as progress towards health equality and ending stigmatization edge ever onward.

As in previous years, a portion of the proceeds were donated to a local charity, with this year’s beneficiary being Vita Nova, which provides transitional support to former foster care, LGBTQ, and other homeless youth (18-25) through supportive housing, education, employment, and life skills training in Palm Beach County.

The organization brought current residents and alumni to run and volunteer at the event. Vita Nova’s Director of Development and Community Relations, Ashley Berry, commented on their second year as a beneficiary.

“It means a lot to have the support of other organizations in the community,” Berry said. “Tonight we’re looking forward to having our team out here, having a lot of our youth out here … Just to be here as a community and show support for the LGBTQ+ community means so much to us, and we know it means so much to everyone here tonight. We’re all here for the same reason and a good cause.”

Like many of its weekly participants, Night Runners Vice President Teresa Gonzalez likens the community organization to a family, providing an inclusive and supportive outlet for socializing and wellness. The group meets every Monday and Thursday at 8 p.m. at Howard Park in West Palm Beach.

Visit NightrunnersWPB.com to learn more.

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