Nearly Naked: Students undress, sprint around campus to raise money for charity
Some of them donning nothing more than Israeli-flag underwear, tighty whities or Superman briefs—complete with cape—more than 40 students paid for the opportunity to strip and sprint 1.2 miles around campus Saturday night.
Mr. Wash. U. hosted the first Nearly Naked Run in Washington University history to raise money for City Faces, an arts outreach program for underprivileged St. Louis youth.
Runners included 14 of the 16 Mr. Wash. U. candidates and approximately 30 additional students. Participants paid $5 to pre-register or $7 to register at the event, which raised approximately $500 overall.
The race’s winner, freshman James Fitzhugh, said he was not particularly fazed by the near-nudity or the cold weather.
“It was pretty much just going out and running a mile in the cold, I suppose,” he said.
The runners passed around Brookings Hall and by the Athletic Complex, beginning and ending at the Danforth University Center. Runners were encouraged to wear anything from pajamas to underwear to costumes, given that their attire covered all the areas that a bathing suit would.
The run was aligned with the DUC’s monthly DUC In/DUC Out program. DUC In/DUC Out also featured a mechanical bull, karaoke and a chili buffet for runners and other students following the race.
Mr. Wash. U. candidate and sophomore Ben Sass hoped the run provided students with a welcome break from studying.
“I think it [was] a good way for people to get out and get crazy in the midst of finals,” he said.
Cash prizes of $50, $25 and $15 awaited the run’s top three finishers, respectively.
Second-place winner, freshman Jon Okenfuss, said he enjoyed the race.
“It was a lot of fun and a nice way to start the evening,” he said.
Josh Gruenke, assistant director for programs at the DUC, was the first to propose the idea to the Mr. Wash. U. executive board after organizers approached him seeking to host an event in collaboration with the DUC. Gruenke coordinated a Nearly Naked Run at Northern Kentucky University, where he worked previously.
“Mr. Wash. U. wanted to host a DUC In/DUC Out. They wanted to do something different, something that hadn’t been done before,” Gruenke said.
The Mr. Wash. U. executive board considered the event a success.
“It went really well. It seemed like everyone had fun,” senior Jon Merrill, president of the group’s board, said. “That’s what we were going for, the novel factor.”
Mr. Wash. U. also hosted a Thanksgiving silent auction in order to benefit its extended partnership with City Faces. Merrill noted that the two events drew very different crowds.
Next semester, the group plans to host a Vermonster challenge and gallery night, where they will auction off the artwork from kids involved in the City Faces program.
Merrill and Sass found the Nearly Naked Run unique among the fundraisers and hope to continue the run in future years.
“We’ve definitely talked about making this an annual event, and now that people know what it is, hopefully they will have the guts to come out and race,” Sass said.