July 29, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Look Past the Underwear: This Run Is for a Good Cause

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Participants race in Cupid’s Undie Run on Capitol Hill. The 1.5-mile event raises money for The Children’s Tumor Foundation.

One could be forgiven if the reason for the annual Cupid’s Undie Run, raising money for The Children’s Tumor Foundation, gets a little lost in the spectacle of scantily clad 20-somethings running around Capitol Hill.

“We put the Hilarity in Charity,” states the Cupid’s Undie Run’s Twitter header, which barely breaks through the collage of photos of said 20-somethings in skivvies ranging from arguably tasteful to arguably underwear.

But event organizers are “very careful” to keep it PG-13. “We want it to be a fun undie event versus a sexy undie event,” co-founder Brendan Hanrahan says. A quick look over this past weekend’s photos — some galleries are equipped with warnings not to open at work — suggest that this disclaimer is lost on many of the event’s most enthusiastic participants. But really that’s the point.

The same people who advise against participants stripping down to thongs and panties also encourage them to “get evidence” and tweet the best of their photos. And why not? It’s the near-nude nature of the fun run that keeps people coming back and attracts new participants.

The event, which on Saturday wraps up its fourth edition across the country, directs all of its profits to The Children’s Tumor Foundation, an organization that supports neurofibromatosis, or NF, research and assists individuals and families affected by the debilitating disorder.

According to the foundation, neurofibromatosis “encompasses a set of distinct genetic disorders that causes tumors to grow along various types of nerves.”

It’s the rarest classification of NF, schwannomatosis, that Hanrahan’s friend’s brother, Drew Leathers, was diagnosed with in high school. And it’s Drew who inspired Hanrahan and his friends to run across the Capitol grounds in their underwear.

Humble Beginnings

The scene was a bit different when Hanrahan and his friends set out on the inaugural run in 2010, amid the aftermath of Snowmageddon. There was no press. There were no spectators — or at least no premeditated spectators. “It was traffic-stopping,” Hanrahan says. “Anyone who witnessed it just happened upon it.” They raised $6,000 that day — not bad for an afternoon’s work.

Since then, Cupid’s Undie Run has raised more than $1 million, with more than half of that coming in this year alone.

Part of this year’s boom in success is the event’s expansion. There are now 17 Cupid’s Undie Runs across the United States and one in Sydney, Australia, about half of which sold out. Of course, the run is unique in that “sold out” really means the pre- and post-race bars won’t be able to fit any more people.

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