Get ready, get set, strip.
On Saturday, runners across the country will don their favorite skivvies and hit the pavement for the annual Cupid’s Undie Run. For the first time, Detroiters will get the chance to participate in the approximately one-mile run to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
The concept is simple— run around the D in your underwear and spend the day partying, all to raise money to find a cure for Neurofibromatosis. NF, according to the Children's Tumor Foundation, is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow and damages nerves throughout the body.
According to event co-founder Bobby Gill, the Undie Run started three years ago in an effort to raise awareness for NF after the debilitating genetic disease had affected a good friend.
“This is an event that me and a few friends started in Washington DC kind of as a joke,” said Gill. “We wanted to do something kind of fun for the Children’s Tumor Foundation and NF. We didn’t want to do the same cookie-cutter 5K, happy hour, or the same thing that goes on every weekend that people forget. We thought, ‘Let’s do an underwear run. We’ll have a few beers, run around the Capitol building in our underwear—it’ll be hilarious.”
It only took one outrageous idea, and 30 days of planning, to bring the first Cupid’s Undie Run to the nation’s capital. Gill said he was shocked when more than 650 runners came out to strip down for the first event, despite the frigid February temperatures and three-feet of snow on the ground.
Gill says that first year, the DC event raised around $10,000 for the CTF. Three years and an additional 16 cities later, this year’s Undie Run is expected to raise more than $1 million.
“Undie-runners are in for, what I have been told numerous times over, will be the greatest day of the year. It’s not just a mile, mile and a half run. It’s also an all-day party,” said Gill, who added that Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, was an integral part of expanding the run to Detroit. Gilbert has a son with NF, Gill said, and reached out to help bring the event to the city, as well as Cleveland.
Doors will open at noon at Cheli’s Chili Bar, 47 East Adams in downtown Detroit, to welcome runners for a few pre-run libations. Then, at 2:30 p.m. participants will strip down to their finest unmentionables for the chilly trek.
While many participants in the past have opted for more modest Valentine’s Day-themed pajamas, most runners go full-monty in just panties, boxers and other skimpy underthings.
Sheila Cohoon of Clinton Township will be there on Saturday, ready to get into the spirit by getting out of her clothes, per se. Her 4-year-old son, Nicolas, has NF and undergoes weekly physical and occupational treatments to keep the disorder’s devastating symptoms at bay. Cohoon said she can’t wait to party with her fellow undie-runners, but she’s most excited about drawing awareness to NF.
“It’s one big party with a run in the middle. It’s a fundraiser, but we want to put the fun in fundraiser. We put the hilarity in charity,” said Cohoon. “It’s outrageous. It’s different. It’s drawing people for two things: For awareness of NF, which is one of our goals, and the other is to raise funds for research.”
To join in with the 8,000 people nationwide that will be raising funds and dropping trou for the foundation Feb. 9, you can head to cupidsundierun.com to register yourself or donate to an existing team. Top fundraisers could earn prizes from commemorative underpants to engraved iPod Nanos, or even access to a VIP open bar at Cheli’s on run day. But space is limited, said Gill, so its best to register early if you want to reserve a spot.
Registration for the Cupid’s Undie Run in Detroit is $35. Participants must be at least 21 years old. For more information, visit www.cupidsundierun.com/detroit.