Anyone who has explored Austin knows that it is a city where you can expect nothing but the unexpected. Just when you think you’ve got this funky town figured out, they throw something new and even more bizarre into the mix! From the fusion food trucks and fantastical performers to the oddball festivals and off-the-wall events, there’s not much about Austin that’s ordinary – and that’s why we love it! So it should come as no surprise that this one-of-a-kind city would attract an event as extraordinary – and unconventional – as Cupid’s Undie Run, a giant yearly fundraising fiesta where no shirts, ties or even pants are required!
This annual charity extravaganza is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for locals to drink with friends, get (nearly) naked – they try keep it PG since it is, after all, a charity centered around children – then run around the city like a crazy person without fear of being judged – or committed for that matter! But what would drive someone to drink then run around the city (in the middle of winter, no less!) in their underwear?? Surely not just for the hell of it! There has to be a bigger purpose to this panty-parading pandemonium.
Turns out, this charitably chaotic event was started in 2010 by a group of college pals in Washington in an attempt to raise awareness for Neurofibromatosis – a genetic condition that one of the group’s brothers was born with. With little known about this affliction and no current treatments, the group decided it was time to take action and do their part to raise awareness and funding for the community. And what better way to raise public awareness than by stripping down to your skivvies and streaking through the streets.Cupid’s Undie Run was a hit with the public right out of the gate, raising several thousand dollars that first year and expanding to 3 other cities within a few short years. But how did this wild gathering reach Texas’s capital?Karen Rabon – a successful yet private attorney in Austin – had never heard of Neurofibromatosis (NF) until her son, Hayden, was diagnosed with the condition at age 5. The more Karen learned about NF, the more frustrated and helpless she felt about the prognosis of this progressive disorder. As it turns out, the unique genetic affliction is much more common than people realize, affecting 1 in 3,000 people across the world. But not many people are actually aware of the prevalence of this disorder and how little is actually known about NF. So Karen decided to do what any concerned and caring mother would do and reached out to everyone she could find who had experience with NF. Soon she found a global Facebook community of thousands for mothers of children with NF, and the support grew by the day.For those who are not familiar with neurofibromatosis, here are a few key facts about this disorder:
- NF is a genetic condition that 1 in 3,000 people are born with.
- This disorder is progressive and highly unpredictable, varying from person to person.
- The condition causes tumors to develop on the nerves and under the skin’s surface.
- The tumors, although initially benign, can sometimes grow uncontrollably and become malignant.
- There is currently no cure for NF – even surgical removal is ineffective.
Armed with more knowledge about NF and a community of like-minded mothers, Karen set about looking for a way to bring awareness to Austin. It was then that she came across Cupid’s Undie Run and fell in love with the idea. She knew Austin would be just the place to introduce this kooky concept. So she contacted the coordinators of the run and told them what she planned to do, and they were on 100% on board, giving her all the resources they could to help her bring Cupid’s Undie Run to Austin, Texas. Karen connected with a kindred spirit in Austin, Meera Rajagopalan, who was born with NF, and together they organized Austin’s first ever Undie Run!
Cupid’s Undie Run made its big debut in Austin in 2013 at the former Molotov Bar – now Concrete Cowboy. The streets were closed and barricaded around the bar and the venue was packed with registrants ready to bare-all all over downtown! When asked to describe the event, which includes a 3/4 mile untimed run around downtown, Karen said:
“It’s more like a big party with D.J’s, drinks and a short, easy run in the middle!”
The run was a huge success that first year in Austin, raising $27,000 in funding for research and clinical trials. Not only did thousands of registrants participate, but even passers-by couldn’t help but indulge their curiosity and join in on the fun when they saw a bar full of naked locals drinking and dancing to D.J’s.
Now in its 10th year, Cupid’s Undie Run has been featured on the cover of Runner’s World and has expanded to 37 cities across the U.S., raising millions nationwide in funding for N.F. research. This year, Austin’s run has raised close to $50,000 on its own, with even more new runners and familiar runners coming back again to participate and contribute. Why is this disrobed drunken debauchery so popular? It’s certainly not because we’re all such avid runners! Co-organizer Karen Rabon believes the run’s main appeal is that it’s a valid excuse to party and also partake in some innocent (perfectly legal) public nudity in the process. And, as another sweet bonus, runners get to contribute to something important and actually make a difference – even if they do so drunk and undressed. But, if that’s not enough incentive to join in on this fun run, participants also have the chance to score extra goodies during the annual run, which takes place in Austin on February 8th, 2020 12PM at Buford’s Backyard.
Not only will there be great drink specials and wallet-friendly grub at nearby Peco’s Tacos and Schaller’s Stube, runners who raise $250 or more will get open bar plus breakfast tacos from Hat Creek Burgers, a pair of commemorative undies and a Cupid’s Undie Run T-Shirt! And the prizes get better from there, going all the way up $10,000. Runners can even set up their own Facebook fundraising page to help spread the word. Fundraising is open through the month of February, so you’ve still got time to shoot for that $10,000 prize even after the Feb. 8th run. And you can always click here if you want to donate to this very worthwhile cause! Check out the Cupid’s page for more info on prizes, participation and this year’s running route (about 3/4 of a mile).
**25% OFF CODE: BUFORDS**
When asked about her experience with Cupid’s Undie Run, Karen has nothing but positive remarks about both the event and the participants:
“There’s something about being in your undies together that immediately makes friends out of strangers. Year after year runners come back, and they’re such fun, open-hearted people!”
I guess that’s the bonding power of bar-hopping in the buff together! Now 14, Karen’s son Hayden’s condition has stabilized and he is enjoying his busy, well-rounded childhood. And there are even effective clinical trials underway that have succeeded in shrinking tumors for the first time (see below for clinical trial before and after results). But Karen has no plans to rest any time soon, saying “Now I can be a resource for other people where I had none.”
Click here to sign up for the 2020 Cupid’s Undie Run and get your wristband for the event. **Use promo code BUFORDS for 25% off**. If you miss registration you can still show up the day of and pick up a wristband there. Feel free to come in your streaking gear or dressed up and ready to strip down at bag check. And don’t be afraid to get weird with it! You’ll find runners in everything from wings and wigs to unicorn horns and onesies! Whatever floats your boat or flips your skirt, you still probably won’t be the weirdest person there! Cupid’s Undie Run is one big undressed, untimed, unadulterated good time! Don’t miss your chance to experience first-hand one of Austin’s strangest and most uncensored runs!