Cupid's Undie Run is set to happen at Fenway Park on Saturday. Credit: John Ramspott
What's more romantic than 800 cupids running a mile around Fenway Park in their skivvies? A team of big-hearted Bostonians nearly quadrupling a fundraising record to help children with tumors.
Just in time for Valentine's Day weekend, the Cupid's Undie Run Boston is slated to happen Saturday at Fenway Park's Yawkey Way. Being that it's the fundraiser's Boston debut, organizers of one team are flabbergasted that the event has already trumped the previous team record of $35,000, with "Cure NF with Jack" raising $116,000 for the Children's Tumor Foundation.
With all teams included, the Boston event is slated to raise $150,000 total by Saturday, exceeding the most successful inaugural Cupid's Undie Run by about $25,000.
"It's great that we're running in our underwear, and it's great that we're raising money, but when people aren't aware of something, they can't effect change. Awareness is the key," said Jake Burke, a Medford native turned Georgia resident whose 9-year-old son, Jack, is struggling with neurofibromatosis.
The condition is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that causes tumors to grow on nerves. One in 3,000 children is born with the disorder, which can lead to blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, cancer and chronic pain.
More than 200 people are signed up to run on Jack's team Saturday, but Burke said he knows of about 1,600 others who donated.
"What I've been blown away by — people I haven't set eyes on in years have either signed up or donated. The community up there has been tremendously supportive of us," said Burke.
Founded four years ago in Washington, D.C., the annual Valentine's-themed fundraiser has grown to become the world's largest underwear run, with dozens of fun runs popping up in cities across the nation and Australia. Last year's fundraisers collected a total of more than $1.3 million.
Boston Race Director Lindsey Norse met organizers during the first race in Washington, D.C., and has since moved to Waltham. Knowing what a success the race has been in the last few years, Norse, a manager in the fitness industry, figured Boston deserved a crack at the fun run.
"I thought, Cupid's getting really big now, why not do it in Boston?" Norse said, adding that she is "excited and thrilled" at the city's outpouring of support so far.
"I've been brought to tears at least once a week," Norse said of the fundraising success.
Following the run on Yawkey Way, runners and spectators will take to the streets in celebration of their underwear-clad efforts and embark on an afternoon of bar hopping around Fenway.
"We may be in our underwear, and it may be cold, but that's what the bars are for," said Norse.
If You Go It costs $50 to register. The party starts at noon, and the run starts at 2 p.m. A celebration will commence after the run, until about 4:30 p.m. An ID is required to participate; everyone must be 21 or older.
"Arrive early and stay late... and feel free to remain pants-less the entire time!" organizers said on the event's website.