By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke
Over 700 people braved the cold in their underwear Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh to help raise money for neurofibromatosis.
Pittsburgh’s first Cupid’s Undie Run, a mile-long bottomless trek through the cold and snow, generated $109,303 for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
According to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. There is currently no known cure.
Race Director Rachael Olbeter, who organized the run, has a 7-year old son Alex who suffers from NF. Alex has been undergoing chemotherapy since he was 4.
The original goal was to raise $50,000, but by 12:15 p.m. Saturday afternoon, they were over the $100,000 mark.
According to the foundation, Cupid’s Undie Run was established in 2010 by Brenden Hanrahan, Chad Leathers and Bob Gill after Leathers’ brother was diagnosed with NF. This year the event is taking place in 27 cities in the United States and two runs in Australia.
Assistant Marketing Director of Buckhead Saloon Megan Hensley has been working with Olbeter since the fall to organize the run.
“We like to do a lot of non-profit work around here because we’re privately and locally owned,” Hensley said. “We like to get involved in local non-profits and do what we can for the community since [Pittsburgh] is our home.”
The participants converged at Buckhead Saloon in Station Square wearing Valentine-themed bedroom apparel. Many of the runners appeared to be in their 20s.
Most male participants wore boxers and underwear with hearts and cupids on them. Some women wore pink and red bras and underwear and sported apparel like wings, face paint, glitter, feathered boas and headbands.
Some runners like Duquesne pharmacy alumnus Chris Korenski, 27, ran in honor of a family member battling NF. For Korenski, it was his 3-year old cousin Nathan.
Korenski said he was “excited, nervous and cold” in anticipation for the run.
Ed Anderson, 25, of Moon Township, was running in honor of his cousin’s baby.
“It’s really great to have all these young people raising money for kids who can’t help themselves,” Anderson said.
Volunteers were also enthusiastic about the run. Members of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority from Robert Morris University came to help with registration and set up.
“It’s so cool that there are so many people here in their underwear to raise money,” member Kelly Ethridge said.
Hensley said the Buckhead Saloon was happy the run was successful and hopes to provide a venue for the event again next year.
“Running in the winter for an hour or so in your underwear may be uncomfortable, but it really makes you reflect on what uncomfortable means when kids battle the disease [NF] every single day,” Olbeter said.