UI students bare (almost) all for charity


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Dressed in superhero costumes, hula skirts, or nothing but their underwear, more than 400 University of Iowa students, high-schoolers, and residents stripped down and hit the streets of Iowa City in freezing rain for the Nearly Naked Mile.

The UI Alumni Association’s Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow ambassadors hosted the third-annual Nearly Naked Mile on March 5. Both the number of participants and pounds of donated clothing have grown from previous years.

The hordes of shivering but enthusiastic runners donated more than 2,800 pounds of clothing to the Salvation Army — up from about 2,000 pounds last year.

Though runners didn’t have to be “nearly naked” to participate, they did have to donate at least one item of clothing to run in the race.

As participants jumped up and down in Hubbard Park, music blasting to pump them up before the race, Vinton High School junior Bob Phillips talked about his outfit of choice.

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The 16-year-old wore a black sport jacket, basketball shorts, and a dress tie tied around his head. Dark sunglasses topped off the ensemble.

But despite the silliness of his attire, he said, he wanted to support a good cause.

“I wanted to donate clothes, and it’s the naked mile, it sounds like fun,” said Phillips, who drove an hour to get to the race.

UI sophomore Beth Cline, the Community Outreach Committee head of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, said the group got the idea from other schools three years ago.

Since then, the race has grown every year, she said, and the group aims to “keep it going many years.”

Cline said organization officials chose to donate to Salvation Army because the company is more community-focused rather than a franchise.

UI freshman Sammie Marks, a co-chairwoman of the group, said she enjoys the event because she wants to contribute to her hometown.

“I’m really looking forward to helping with the community outreach … I thought it would be awesome to give back to the UI and Coralville and Iowa City community,” she said.

Marks said the race is hard work to put together, but the increasing amount of participation and hype is worth it.

“I think it’s a really cool thing, and I love our slogan, ‘Running Bare because We Care,’ she said with a smile. “A lot of people hear that and are like, ‘So I get to run naked?’ And they get really excited about it.”

UI junior Laura Arny, a Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow ambassador, said this was her third race, and she appreciates the philanthropic aspect.

“It is a fun challenge … it’s rewarding to do it,” she said.

Arny said she tries to wear as little clothing as possible when running so she can donate more items.
In one year, she donated more than 25 articles of clothing.

Though she said the dismal weather could deter some runners, she was determined to be a part of it.

“It feels good to give back to the [community] and it’s only a mile, so it makes it easy,” Arny said. “I’ll probably do it next year just because it’s my last year, so I might as well finish it.”

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