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Thursday, November 19,2009

Students may get to run (almost) naked for charity

By David DeWitt

Ohio University students may have the opportunity this winter to literally give the clothes off their backs, and then run down Court Street.

Representatives from OU's Student Alumni Board approached Athens City Council Monday with an idea that would shut down Court Street for a "œNearly Naked Mile" race to provide free clothing for the needy.

Sarah Kelly, philanthropy chair for the board, and Max Adair, student outreach vice president, proposed "Bare on the Bricks: A Nearly Naked Mile," for noon Feb. 27, 2010.

Kelly said that the event would be sponsored by the Student Alumni Board and Alpha Epsilon Pi, a philanthropic Jewish fraternity at OU.

"The idea of this event is to take the clothes off your back and donate them to charity," Kelly told City Council. She added that the clothes are tentatively scheduled to be donated to Grandma's Gifts in Powell, Ohio, while monetary donations would go to My Sister's Place, the battered-women's shelter in Athens.

Several council members suggested that the clothes should be donated locally. Kelly said that she attempted to find organizations in the city, but most responded that they didn't have the physical space to take the donations. She added that organizations such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army would sell the donated clothes, and the goal is to give the clothes away for free.

While runners haven't gotten entirely naked in other places where the naked mile has taken place, sometimes they'll go down to their briefs or shorts.

Assembly time for the event, Kelly said, would be around 10 a.m., with the event at noon, and ending around 1 p.m.. She estimated that the number of participants would be between 500 and 1,000.

"This number we pulled from our research of other schools that have done nearly naked miles," Kelly said. Iowa did the event in March, she said, in the rain, and still had hundreds of students turn out, donating more than 2,000 pounds of clothing. West Compton, Calif., had about 500 people, while the University of Cincinnati turned out over 300.

"These numbers of 500 to 1,000 I definitely feel are attainable," she said.

Participants would assemble at the OU College Gate at the intersection of Union and Court streets, she said. The disbanding area would be at the other end of Court Street, at the Carpenter Street intersection.

She said the two organizations would provide a minimum of 100 volunteers to aid in the event.

"As students, charity is the ideal thing that we can give back because we don't have those stable jobs yet to give back monetarily to the university," Kelly said. "So this is something we could all participate in."

Athens Safety Service director Paula Horan Moseley said that her department has not yet looked into the matter. Council Transportation chair Christine Knisely said that she had discussed with Kelly that a minimum number of city staff would be needed at the event, with an expense of $600 to $1,000.

First Ward council member Kent Butler asked if the planners envisioned making this an annual event.

Kelly said that she would like to see the event continue in the future, and hopes that it would become popular enough to keep going.

At-large member Jim Sands pointed to traffic being a large problem in shutting down the length of Court Street. A shorter route along the street would be easier to accomplish, he said, something that the planners said they would be open to considering.

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl suggested organizers talk with the Athens Uptown Business Association about the proposal to shut down Court Street for that hour.


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