Every year, Philip Gray takes it upon himself to hold “Pump it for Pink” classes at Equinox South Beach and collects money for breast cancer research. This April 9, the fitness club plans to repay him by breaking with tradition and holding a giant fundraiser to benefit him, as he struggles with the mounting medical bills that stem from his own battle against a particularly deadly form of the disease.
“Phight4Philip” will be held on Saturday, April 9 at Equinox South Beach, the popular fitness club he helped open here 10 years ago, and where the group fitness classes he leads are among the most popular on the beach.
“Equinox supports “Cycle for Survival,” but for the club to get involved in raising money for an individual is very unusual. But when this happened to Philip, it really touched home, and we knew we had to rally around him,” says Rebecca Anfossi, the fitness club’s general manager, who started the first fund to help defray Gray’s costs when he was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer last July.
Last July, Gray was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, a particularly dangerous form of the disease. He underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and was told he was cancer-free, only to learn just a few months later that the cancer had returned.
Gray’s friends had been raising money for him on the Internet, but, knowing the battle – and bills – that Gray would now face, this time, his close friend, Michelle Hanlon-Mascari, who had recruited him for Equinox when the club opened in South Beach 10 years ago, insisted on going all the way to the top and getting Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak’s permission to hold a giant fundraiser at the club.
“Philip has been a fundraising advocate for 15 years and he continues to fight and create awareness for foundations without hesitation, so we knew we had to join in his fight. Everyone at Equinox has been touched by him in some way, whether through his friendship, his infectious energy or his spirit, so we wanted to do something big that could take care of his bills and let Philip know that he won’t have to worry about money to pay for his treatment,” she said.
“Phight4Philip, the Fundraiser to Support Mr. Fabulous” will take place on Saturday, April 9, with fitness classes dedicated to Gray going on from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring Equinox’s top instructors, as well as light bites, surprises and an enormous silent auction filled with top-notch prizes.
So far, more than 50 items have been donated for the silent auction. They include a trip-for-two to Hawaii with airfare and hotel, a weekend at the Standard hotel, $200 dinners, jewelry from Tiffany’s, wearing apparel including swimsuits, handbags, and exclusive tee-shirts designed by Gray (he is a fashion designer and author, as well as a fitness guru).
Although at first he was devastated to learn the cancer had returned, the support of his friends has lifted his spirits, and now Gray, who is responding well to treatment, is back leading classes at Equinox. Says Anfossi, “Philip is a guy that is loved and adored, but somehow I don’t think he ever realized it. Now he really knows how much we love him.”
Phight4Philip, Saturday, April 9, Equinox SoBe, 520 Collins Ave, Miami, Fl 33139
For more information, call Equinox South Beach at (305) 673-1172.
Charlotte Libov is the author of six books about health, including her latest book, The Cancer Survival Guide. She is a health writer for Newsmax Media, and she also writes about Miami Beach arts and culture for Examiner.com. She gives talks on health topics to organizations and businesses, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.