Snow, sleet, wind and rain might have thwarted the University of Rhode Island's scantily-clad runners today, but racers still plan to strip down for the Nearly Naked Mile next week to raise awareness for local homelessness.
The race, sponsored by the Student Alumni Association, will be the first of its kind at the Kingston campus as students partner with the and the to organize clothing donations for the poor.
"We are trying to promote — obviously — clothing donations, and also raise awareness of the homelessness in Rhode Island," said Tim Viall, a junior at URI and spokesman to the SAA. "The premise is that the run will give people the experience of what it would be like to be outside with minimal clothing."
With more than 100 runners already registered, Viall expects hundreds of pounds in donated clothes for the local charities. Runners must donate two articles of clothing or a winter coat in lieu of an entry fee. Although the race is limited to URI students, the public is invited to join in on the nearly-nude festivities and donate to the cause.
Besides checking out runners in their skivvies, spectators can groove on the quad to live music by DJ Jeremy Wigton, courtesy of WRIU. There will also be activities, prizes and plenty of Rhody Pride.
“We hope to get as much of the URI community involved as possible,” Viall said. "SAA has always taken part in community service projects, but the Nearly Naked Mile is great because it allows a lot of people to get involved and it's an easy way to donate clothes."
The SAA began the ramp-up for Thursday’s strip-down more than two years ago, according to Viall. As part of the organization’s mission to foster school spirit, charitable outreach events and connect campus life with the Alumni Association, Viall and other SAA members attended a conference hosted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. There they met with thousands of students from hundreds of colleges and learned about the growing trend amongst students to buck their clothing and race for a cause.
Viall reached out the Jonnycake Center, a healthy foods pantry, and the Welcome House, a shelter, so that URI student’s donations could make an investment in the immediate community.
“A woman from the Welcome House told me they had had URI students stay there before,” said Viall. “That really hit me.”
The race route will begins in the quadrangle and will loop runners down Upper College Road before taking a footpath back toward the Memorial Union and back to the quad for the finish. A map of the route is attached to this article.
Registration and pre-race activities kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8 in the quad. The race starts at 7 p.m.