This Valentine’s Day, February 14, more than a thousand people will bare it all (or most of it, anyway) in downtown Detroit for the third-annual Cupid’s Undie Run! The event, hosted by The Fillmore Detroit, also takes place in dozens of other cities across the country. The semi-naked run puts the “hilarity in charity”; Fathead, Quicken Loans and a host of other local businesses are proud sponsors. It’s the most fun you can have while wearing your underwear in sub-zero conditions!
The mile-long run raises money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), which is the world’s largest non-government organization dedicated to ending neurofibromatosis (NF) through research. NF is a genetic disorder that affects one out of every 3,000 children born in the U.S., causing tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body that result in blindness, deafness, learning disabilities and severe, chronic pain.
CTF provides support for children diagnosed with NF and their close family members and friends. The organization also funds critical research and assists in the development of clinical centers. As part of their relentless efforts for the cause, CTF and Cupid’s Undie Run are changing the fundraising game. Last year, the event raised more than $2.8 million, and the goal is to double that number for 2015!
So, you wanna strip and join in the fun? The Fillmore’s doors open at noon on Valentine’s Day. First, there will be pre-race festivities to warm the soul. Then, it’s time to get bold and cold and hit the streets. The party “officially” ends at 4 p.m., but you may run into some short-shorted participants roaming the city throughout the night. MeUndies, Bombas, After 5 Detroit, Hard Rock Cafe, Jose Cuervo Cinge, Three Olives, Red Bull, Pulse Fitness Training and Channel 955 are also sponsors.
Cupid’s Undie Run is much more than running around in underwear and funny costumes; it’s an event that holds emotional meaning for many. It all started in 2010, when Brendan Hanrahan’s best friend’s younger brother was diagnosed with NF. Hanrahan decided he was going to do whatever he could to help raise money, and Cupid’s Undie Run was born.
Brendan and his friends sprinted through the streets of Washington D.C. alongside 650 other NF supporters that first year, raising more than $8,000 for CTF. Since then, the run has gained national attention and it shows no signs of slowing down. This year, Cupid’s Undie Run events are being held for the first time in Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, San Francisco and St. Petersburg. (Note that each location is warmer than Detroit!)
Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, learned about the event in 2013 and immediately knew Detroit had to be involved. It’s an effort that’s close to his heart. Gilbert’s oldest son, Nick, was born with NF.
“There is a very strong community supporting NF in Detroit,” explains Jamie Sedlacek, co-director of Cupid’s Undie Run Detroit along with John Marcicky, director of placemaking for Rock Ventures. “We are one of only two cities that host a Neurofibromatosis gala, so it was a no brainer to get involved in downtown Detroit.”
It’s not a huge surprise that, in just a few short years, Detroit ranks among the top five events in the country.
“The first year Detroit participated, we had about 500 runners,” Jamie said. “The following year, that number doubled. We are anticipating about 1,500 runners this year. It will definitely sell out!”
In all, through 38 cities and tens of thousands of pairs of underwear, more than 30,000 scantily clad NF supporters have raised more than $5 million.
Worried about getting frostbite in all the wrong places? Have no fear! You can still get involved by donating online, hanging back at The Fillmore Detroit or wearing whatever you desire during the run!
Need more motivation? The CTF recently named Braeden and Bronson Steiner Detroit’s NF Heroes. Both boys were diagnosed with NF within the first 18 months of their lives. Due to their unbelievable strength, unprecedented willpower and a loving support system, these little giants are both making incredible strides and leading happy, healthy lives!
So this Valentine’s Day, grab your significant other, your friends, your favorite undies and your running shoes, and come spread the love in downtown Detroit. It will do your heart good!
There’s still time to donate or register online for $45 at the Cupid’s Undie Run website! You can even refer friends and earn Cupid cash, which can be used to buy Cupid’s Undie Run apparel. Click on the link to learn more!