Red, pink and blue: Runners race for cause in underwear

Derek Draplin
The Detroit News

Detroit — On Valentine's Day, 1,200 runners bared the cold in their red and pink skivvies to help raise awareness and money for neurofibromatosis research as part of the third annual Cupid's Undie Run in the city.

Runners ran about a half-mile route down Park Avenue and Clifford Street, which was cut in half due to the cold weather, which was in the teens Saturday afternoon.

In partnership with the Children's Tumor Foundation and Dan Gilbert, the run raised $200,000 toward research of neurofibromatosis, a progressive genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves in the body. The Children's Tumor Foundation, which also sponsors walks across the country, funds research dedicated to developing treatments and finding a cure for neurofibromatosis.

Jodie and Chaun Steiner of Toledo participated for the second year on behalf of their two sons, Braeden, 11, and Bronson, 8, who both have brain tumors from neurofibromatosis. Jodie Steiner, who also has neurofibromatosis, said there's a 50/50 chance of passing the disease on to children.

"Both of our boys have brain tumors from their neurofibromatosis," she said. "We just want to find a cure so when they have children, they don't have to worry about what they might be passing on to them."

Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, and his wife, Jennifer, matched every dollar that runners raised between $500 and $1,000 in both the Detroit and Cleveland undie runs because their son, Nick, has neurofibromatosis.

The Undie Run is also run in 38 other U.S. cities, as well as in Australia. In the inaugural run in 2013, Detroit had 500 participants.

Sheila Cahoon of Clinton Township has a son, Nick, 5, who has neurofibromatosis. She participated and helped fundraise for a third year in a row.

"As a mother with a child with NF, it's my goal to find better treatments and ultimately a cure," Cahoon said.

Nationally, the Cupid's Undie Runs are expected to raise an estimated $3 million this year.

"Despite the freezing temps, more than 1,200 runners came out today," John Marcicky, who organized the Detroit race said, noting this year drew 200 more participants than last year. "We raised more than $200,000 dollars in Detroit alone —all to support the Children's Tumor Foundation."