Not even a steady rain could stop the crowds of people who showed up at the Northeast Residential Area quad Friday to participate in the first ever “Nearly Naked Mile” at the University of Massachusetts.
The event – which was organized, in part, by the UMass Alumni Association – was a fundraiser to benefit the Amherst Survival Center, and it took place during UMass’ nine-day long Homecoming week.
Students ran the race “nearly naked” to “demonstrate the challenges faced by over 16,000 homeless people across Massachusetts without appropriate clothing as cooler temperatures approach,” according to UMass’ Homecoming website.
“The Student Alumni Association learned about (this kind of event) at a conference that they went to for alumni associations,” said Erin McDowell, the assistant director for student and young alumni programs. “It’s an event that’s done all around the country. They wanted to bring it here so they put in the time and research…. so that we could run it for a good cause and have some fun while we were doing it.
“We’re happy that we can help out the Amherst Survival Center in any way that we can,” she added.
McDowell said that about 300 participants preregistered for the run, and some registered that same day. Each participant was asked to donate two articles of clothing to a drive that supports the Amherst Survival Center.
Despite the rain, many students said they enjoyed the run. At pre-run activities, runners were scantily clad with body paint to show their spirit.
Annie Hathaway, one of the participants, said that she ran the race “for fun.”
“I’m part of a community service fraternity that’s co-ed called APO, Alpha Phi Omega, and I like to do these types of (events),” she said.
Freshman runner Robert Reynolds, who had a goal of finishing the race in less than six and a half minutes, said he was also excited to participate in the “Nearly Naked Mile.”
“I love to run and I like to donate clothes. I like being naked,” he said.
No winner for the event was named, and the proceeds raised were still being calculated as of yesterday, according Emily Covill, the event founder and co-chair.
Anna Jolliffe can be reached at [email protected]