A brisk run for charity

About 50 students ran around campus in their underwear to support those with epilepsy.

Undie Run participants start the 1.5 mile race on Friday.  The participants stripped down to their underwear and donate the clothes that they were wearing to

Holly Peterson

Undie Run participants start the 1.5 mile race on Friday. The participants stripped down to their underwear and donate the clothes that they were wearing to

Anne Millerbernd

Shivering in huddled groups as the sun set on the Northrop Plaza on Friday, more than 50 half-naked University of Minnesota students prepared to run a mile and a half around campus for charity.

Many of the students on the plaza were attending their first Undie Run, an increasingly popular philanthropy event nationwide, to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.

Five College of Science and Engineering students organized the event as part of a class project. Runners donated their clothes to the epilepsy foundation, which will sell them and keep the proceeds.

Before the run, participants shed their clothes and Gopher Laundry workers stuffed the donations into large duffel bags before carrying them off to wash them.

“We chose to do it because it’s a good cause, [it] seemed like a fun event and we get to interact with students,” said Gopher Laundry co-owner Justin Romer.

After the run, organizers invited participants to the West Bank’s Corner Bar, which relaxed its dress code for the night to allow the runners inside.

Biomedical engineering senior Anders Olmanson helped plan the event. His first attempt hosting a run last summer was less organized and drew fewer runners, Olmanson said.

But this time, word of mouth among CSE students brought more participants — many of whom said they were just as excited to run half-naked in public as they were to donate to charity.

“I’m a senior this year, so I figured it’s probably my last chance. Might as well jump in and try something new,” said biomedical engineering senior Alyssa Hennen.

This isn’t the first time that students have stripped down for charity. The University held a similar event three years ago, and a national Undie Run across 17 U.S. cities last year, including Minneapolis, raised more than $1.3 million for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Olmanson said he hopes to make the run an annual event at the University, and his sister, a freshman, wants to continue it after he graduates.

Organizers planned for up to 150 attendees, but biomedical engineering senior and run organizer Jonathan Hong said he was still pleased with the lower-than-expected turnout of 54.

The chilly weather on Friday evening may have deterred some runners. Those who did attend jumped up and down for warmth before the race while a DJ played club music. Hong said the event cost only $100 to coordinate. It’s not clear yet how much money was raised.

Hong said the run was a liberating and novel experience.

“Who in their right mind, on a normal day, is going to run around in their underwear?” he said.
 

Kia Farhang contributed to this report.