Tampa – If ticket sales continue to go as they have the last few months, Tampa is poised to set records with its fundraising totals at this month’s Equality Florida Gala. The Feb. 22 event, held at The Vault on Franklin St., could easily raise $225,000. But that doesn’t mean organizers wouldn’t appreciate adding more to the coffers.

“All of the money goes to the same bucket,” explained Ed Lally, Equality Florida’s Central Florida Corporate and Development Manager. “All of the money raised at all of our galas goes to our program services. A bulk is used for educating the public on our objectives and how we can achieve them. The most exciting thing is that we now have this marriage equality lawsuit filed, and there’s quite a buzz over it. Money is needed to fuel that suit as it makes its way through the courts.”

Tickets are $100 and The Vault can hold 500 people. Lally said Equality Florida chose the space because of its use by the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival for its launch party in October.

“We went back to the space with our steering committee and looked it over,” Lally said. “We loved it and we loved the location. We’re excited to be downtown.”

In 2013 and 2012, the Tampa Gala was held in Ybor City. Before that, it was held along Bayshore at the Garden Club. A downtown location just makes sense this year, Lally said.

“We’re giving away two awards on Feb. 22, and one is to the City of Tampa,” Lally said. “The city will receive our Voice of Equality Award.”

Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the entire Tampa City Council is scheduled to appear, Lally said. Buckhorn will give a speech when he accepts the award. Tampa was named the number one Florida city on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipality Index.

Also being recognized is PNC Bank, which will receive the organization’s Business for Equality Award. Accepting that award will be Joe Meterchick, the bank’s West Florida Regional President.

“PNC has always enjoyed a 100-percent ranking from HRC’s corporate equality index,” Lally said. “The bank is also a statewide presenting sponsor this year.”

Tickets are still available to the Tampa Gala, but Lally suggests purchasing them well before the Feb. 22 event, as space is limited.

Tickets can be ordered at EQFL.org, and then by following the Tampa Gala link.

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