Grin and “Bare” It: The Undie Classic

University of Central Florida (UCF) students found a perfectly legitimate reason to sport their underwear, and only their underwear, in public. At 6:00 p.m. on April 9, 2010, participants stripped down to their undergarments and bathing suits at the starting line, all in the name of philanthropy.

Organized by the MU Psi Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity at UCF, the event drew attention for more reasons than one. Besides the obvious appeal of college students jogging a mile through their student union and around campus wearing minimal clothing, the purpose of the event was to help out the UCF community. At the start line, participants de-layered and donated their clothing to Goodwill Industries International, a national organization that sells donated clothing and other items at reduced prices. As Steven Harowitz, the coordinator of the Undie Classic, pointed out, Goodwill has a large presence and does a lot of good in the Orlando area, so the additional donations were much appreciated.

Funds resulting from the $2 registration fee went to help the Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization that raises money for over 170 children’s hospitals. The Undie Classic put these funds towards what the school calls Knight-Thon: a philanthropy event on campus that supports the Children’s Miracle Network by informing students about the organization. A 14-hour dance marathon, Knight-Thon is UCF’s biggest philanthropic event, and the financial support from the Undie Classic has proved to be very helpful.

Organizers of the event encouraged runners to get creative and have fun with team themes and costumes, but reserved the right to ban anyone wearing items that were too revealing. The rules were few, but all participants were required to be UCF students, to register the day of the event with a $2 fee, to wear underwear or a bathing suit, and to surrender all articles of clothing to Goodwill besides the “bare” minimum at the starting line. While on the one-mile run, participants encountered several stations, including a spirit station, water station, misting station, crowd support station, and techno station.

The Undie Classic is just one of many underwear runs organized to raise money for charity. The trend is especially popular on college campuses, and runs of this nature have been or are being organized at schools such as Arizona State University (ASU), Northeastern, Boston College, and the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). According to a recent Sigma news release, the undie run at UCLA drew 8,000 participants. Let’s face it, where else besides college would public indecency find its way into public philanthropy?

But despite all of the puns and sarcasm, these runs are actually doing a lot of good. After four months of planning, the UCF organizers hope to make the Undie Classic a school tradition. They point out that it is a good way to relieve stress—which is especially appealing for college students who often find themselves in demanding situations at school. At UCLA, the run is deliberately planned during finals week for the purpose of alleviating students’ stress. Not only do the runs bring awareness to a worthy cause, but they also merge community involvement and fun. The runs are a great way to simultaneously get students active, promote awareness about important issues, interact with local communities, and get a good laugh.


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