Runners strip down to undies to raise money for good cause

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Runners bore the cold in their bare skin Saturday, strutting down Woodward in their undies for a good cause. 

With an ambulance on standby, about 420 runners stripped down to lacy bras, colorful tutus, shiny red briefs and lots of Cupid's wings in 18-degree weather to participate in the 7th annual Cupid's Undie Run, which raises money for the Children's Tumor Foundation. 

Similar brief 0.8-mile runs were taking place in 40 U.S. cities with over 14,000 undie-clad folks expected to participate throughout February. It is to support those affected by neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow in nerves throughout the body and raises money for research to #endNF. 

Participants prepare to start their run outside The Fillmore Detroit for Cupid's Undie Run, a fundraiser to find a cure for neurofibromatosis, on Saturday, February 9, 2019.

With a goal of $92,500 this year, National Development Manager Amelia Eudailey hopes the run will have more participants next year. 

"I hope it gains more attention. I don't think people really know about neurofibromatosis, but it's more common than ALS or other diseases," Eudailey said. "It's the first undie-run with a mission and it's unlike anything else out there."

In 2010, a group of do-gooders, led by co-founders Brendan Hanrahan, Chad Leathers and Bobby Gill, dropped their pants and ran through the D.C. cold to raise money for research to help end neurofibromatosis.

"They ran in their undies because those affected with NF can’t cover up their tumors, so they decided to strip down in solidarity," according to the website.

Since 2010, Cupid’s Charity was created as a nonprofit and has raised over $16.9 million to the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

The Fillmore was packed with people dressed as superheroes, Ghost Busters, the Super Mario crew, and cosplay roles like Zelda and Link and were hounded for pictures with attendees.

"People really go all-out on their costumes and that's what adds to the fun," Eudailey said. "My favorites are the Village People."

Arthur Doletzki from Dexter and his theater friends dressed up like Pirates of the Caribbean. The group has ran together at the event since 2015.

"We heard about it and thought it sounded fun, oddly," said Doletzki, 27, dressed up as Jack Sparrow. "I ran outside doing the Capt. Jack run, which was super hard in these high heel boots. Each year, we try to top our previous costumes. Last year, we were the "Wizard of Oz" characters and maybe next year we'll be the Justice League."

Kurt Ryan, who has participated in the run for the last three years dressed as Captain America, said this year was especially fun. 

"It's amazing the people you meet and it's for such a good cause," said Ryan, 28, from Warren. "There were rays of sunshine and I could have kept going. Last year, the run was canceled because it was too cold."

Madeline Lafave of Warren said the only thing the run needs is more participants. 

"A few years ago, you could hardly walk in this place," said Lafave, 26, dressed as Wonder Woman. "We want more people here because it would be better and raise more money."
Twitter: @SarahRahal_