You don’t have plans yet for Valentine’s Day?! How about running in your undies to raise money for charity? The Cupid’s Undie Run is coming to Charlotte, and we had the privilege of talking with Charlotte Race Director, Shanna Nelson, about what it means to run in your undies, for a good cause.
Charlotte Business Resources (CBR): Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Shanna Nelson (SN): I’ve lived in the Charlotte area for over 10 years. I moved here for the opportunity and economy and stayed because it’s a great place to live and raise a family. I’m volunteering as a race director and bringing Cupid’s Undie Run to Charlotte for its inaugural run because I believe in the cause, of trying to find a cure for neurofibromatosis (NF) through research and raising money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation to help them do just that. My youngest of three, Sophie, was diagnosed with NF1 this year.
CBR: What is Cupid’s Undie Run?
SN: Cupid’s Undie Run is a mile(ish) run in your bedroom-best on Valentine’s weekend. It’s not your typical fun run because we aim to fundraise (our pants off) up until the day of our big party on Valentine’s Day, where we’ll celebrate our success by taking a victory lap in our skivvies around Uptown Charlotte, all before heading back to Rooftop 210 to continue our party. We raised over $2.8 Million in donations last year, and we are hoping to double that this year.
CBR: How did it get its start? And why “undies?”
SN: Cupid’s Undie Run was conceptualized by a grad student looking to do anything besides write his thesis. He wanted to create a unique fundraiser for the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), an organization with close personal ties due to a best friend’s younger brother who suffers from neurofibromatosis (NF). Naturally, when the idea of an undie run crossed his mind, he knew he had to give it a shot. He checked the calendar and saw that the next significant holiday, Valentine’s Day, was only 6 weeks away, but it seemed like a great opportunity to “spread the love” to such a meaningful organization. Out went an email to three crazy friends and the rest, they say, is history.
CBR: Where do donations go?
SN: We’re running for the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), the world’s largest non-government organization dedicated to ending NF through research. Currently, there is no cure for NF, and there are frighteningly few treatment options. Nationwide, Cupid’s Undie Run has raised nearly $5 Million for CTF to date, and with the projected $50,000 we aim to raise in Charlotte in 2015, we are making a significant impact. You can learn more about NF by watching this video.
CBR: How many cities participate in this event?
SN: Cupid’s Undie Run will be in 38 cities this year. Charlotte is one of eight new cities hosting their inaugural runs.
CBR: What is your favorite part about this event?
SN: I have two. As a mom of a child with NF, my favorite aspect is that it allows me “do something” to try to help my child. My favorite part of the actual run is that it’s just so much fun! Everyone is there to celebrate. It’s this amazing energy of “we’re all in this together,” and you can’t help but have the best time running around in your undies with other crazy folks who are as passionate as you are.
CBR: What’s one of the craziest things a participant has done?
SN: Last year, we had several participants who set challenges if they met their fundraising goals of $2,000 or more! One guy shaved off his beard at the DC event (after growing it for a year!), two in Cleveland got Cupid tattoos, one woman went bungee jumping in her undies, and another in Denver ran the race in stilettos!
CBR: What advice would you offer future participants?
SN: Don’t be deterred by the whole “bedroom best” dress code. We are in this to have fun. We are in this to help a good cause. If you love wearing your undies in public, then please feel free to do so. You can also wear your running clothes, thermal PJs, or cute costumes. If you fundraise $500, you earn a super soft Cupid’s Undie Run robe; it would be perfect to run in!
CBR: How do local businesses help contribute to the run?
SN: We’ve recently partnered with the great team at Run For Your Life. They are helping us promote the run and hosting several registration booths at their various locations. They’ll also be on hand the day of the run selling some of their cool products that they offer in-store. I have a suspicion that their running belts that hold IDs and credit cards are going to become very popular after runners realize they are checking their clothes at a bag check before the run. We welcome partnerships that will benefit both our brave runners and the companies that want to be a part of things, and of course we want to do all that we can for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
CBR: Are there any future plans or changes in the future for Cupid’s Undie Run?
SN: We plan to continue undie running with Cupid until there is a cure for NF! New this year is the challenge to “Donate Your Valentine’s Day!” If undies are a bit much for you, we challenge you to consider what it means to truly “share the love,” and give the gift of hope this Valentine’s Day. Learn more at Cupids.org.
CBR: What is the atmosphere like?
SN: FUN! A little chilly at first, which I think adds to the excitement and makes it more like a bucket list item where you are ready to try something that you’ve never done before. Running in Uptown Charlotte in your Undies…that isn’t something you get to do every day.
CBR: What kind of impact have you seen the run have on the community?
SN: We have been blown away by the impact on the community – people have rallied behind the cause and raised $5 Million in just 5 years! In addition, the event has given those suffering from this horrible disease an opportunity to forget about it for a short while and have a lot of fun, as well as connect with a huge community of people who love fun and want to be part of something larger than life!
CBR: What would you recommend participants bring to the race?
SN: They must bring their ID as this is a 21 and up event. And they must be registered for the run to attend the party. If we aren’t sold out on the day of the run, they can do so at that point, but if we are sold out, they’ll have to wait until next year. They can register online any time at www.cupidsundierun.com, and we’ll be having several registration events over the next few weeks at Run For Your Life as well as some other fun places, and they can follow our schedule of mini events on Twitter @CupidrunChar
We are very excited about our partnership with Rooftop 210! They are as excited about making Cupid’s inaugural run a successful charity event as we are. Their location up on the top of the Epicentre is a perfect place for us to prepare to run in our Undies and celebrate the day away!
CBR: What can people or businesses do if they cannot attend the event?
SN: There are sponsorship opportunities available for local businesses to get involved regardless of whether they can attend! Contact Charlotte@cupidsundierun.com for more information about opportunities! For individuals who want to earn cool swag and contribute to the event, you may do so by selecting the option to “Just Fundraise, Not Attend.” We hope you can make it, though, because the event is much more fun!
CBR: How many people participate in this event?
SN: In Charlotte we plan to limit this year’s event to the first 400 runners. Nationally, we are expecting 20,000 runners in 2015!
CBR: Why does this event take place on Valentine’s Day?
SN: We just want to share the love!
CBR: How can you sign up?
SN: The event will be held on Saturday, February 14, 2015 from 12 pm until 4pm at Rooftop 210, Epicentre, 210 E Trade Street, Suite B320, Charlotte, NC 28202. You can register at www.cupidsundierun.com. You can also read about the run and the incentives you earn by fundraising and about the charity, the Children’s Tumor Foundation, on our web site.
CBR: Is there anything else we haven’t asked that you would like people to know?
SN: Don’t wait until the last second to register! I can’t say enough that this isn’t your typical “fun run,” and one of the most exciting parts is seeing how much money we can collectively raise in donations for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. I do it because I want to see a world without NF. But let’s face it, it’s also fun to earn incentives, like a VIP free drinks wristband.
By registering early and putting their donation pages out over social media, runners have a better chance of earning these incentives and doing something really good for people who need a cure, my daughter included.