URI students brave cold to run “Nearly Naked Mile” around campus

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 13, 2012 – Fierce winds did not stop University of Rhode Island students from running nearly bare around the quadrangle – all for a good cause, of course.

On March 8, the Student Alumni Association, supported by the URI Alumni Association, sponsored the first Nearly Naked Mile, a fun twist on a clothing drive to benefit the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale and the Welcome House of South County.

With the motto “Running (Nearly) Bare Because We Care,” the purpose of the event, besides collecting clothing for the less fortunate, was to show students what it feels like to be outside in the cold with limited clothing, a problem for hundreds of people throughout the state.

“We wanted to spread awareness about the issue, and give students an opportunity to actually ‘run a mile in their shoes,’” said Megan French of Nelson, N.H., a member of the Student Alumni Association.

With temperatures around 40 degrees, students arrived at the quadrangle, disrobed down to their skivvies and brief running attire, and danced around to keep warm as the disc jockey blasted out tunes. The race drew about 150 student runners and several additional spectators. A campus Zumba instructor led a dance workout for all participants to warm up for the run.

“I was very impressed with how well-organized the event was,” said Michelle Fontes-Barros, assistant director of Alumni Relations and advisor to the Student Alumni Association. “There were some concerns with the nearly nakedness, but the students were mature and those issues never presented themselves.”

The Student Alumni Association collected 24 large garbage bags of clothing, adding up to 435 pounds. Some people who did not choose to run in the event still donated clothes. The Student Entertainment Committee gave the organization bags of never-been-worn concert T-shirts from past URI events. Robert Beagle, vice president for Advancement, brought clothes to donate and stayed at the Nearly Naked Mile through the end of the event.

“We had an impressive turnout of runners for our first year, and everyone involved had a great time,” said Tim Viall of Berkley, Mass., campus and community relations chair for the Student Alumni Association. “We hope to make the Nearly Naked Mile an annual tradition at URI. In the future, we may hold the event in November around Thanksgiving, when the spirit of giving is even stronger.”

While the run was not meant to be a competitive race, students breezed through the event in an amazingly short time. Three student-athletes from the men’s track and field team were some of the first to finish up the mile-long run, with impressive times of just under 5 minutes, and the remainder of the runners trickled in shortly after.

The mile-long route began on the quadrangle near Ranger Hall, followed the Century Walk to Lippitt Hall, turned to Upper College Road and down Campus Ave., looped past Fogarty Hall and down to the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons, and finished off at the west end of the quadrangle in front of Davis Hall.

“The Student Alumni Association would really like to thank the URI Student Affairs Diversity Fund,” said Viall. “Without that sponsorship, this event would not have been possible.”

This release was written by Danielle Sanda, an intern in URI’s Department of Communications and Marketing and a public relations major.

Pictured above:

RUNNERS, ON YOUR MARK: A group of runners poses and flexes with Rhody the Ram to kick off the Nearly Naked Mile.

HELPING HAND: Kristin Orabone, a secondary education and history major from Cranston, R.I., and Josh Desabris, a marketing major from North Kingstown, R.I., organize the two dozen bags of clothing collected at the event.

RUNNING WILD: Three URI students don outrageous outfits while running in the Nearly Naked Mile.

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photos by Michael Salerno Photography.