Ladies and gentlemen, start your undies.
For the first time this year in Buffalo - a community known for its host of annual fundraisers - the Undy 5000 will encourage hundreds of runners and walkers to don their skivvies in Delaware Park to help fight colon cancer.
The fun-themed 5k walk/run set for April 28 is a first for the state, and is being held in honor of a Kenmore native and her Town of Tonawanda family, who have recently been touched by the disease.
The national event, organized locally with cooperation and support through the National Colon Cancer Alliance, has raised some $2 million in the 14 cities where it has been held since its inception in 2008.
“It’s a fun theme to an important issue,” co-organizer Nicole Forgione said of the national event she’s helped bring here on behalf of her friend, Kenmore resident Tess Frasier, whose mother died last month of the disease.
Sadly, organizers had hoped that Tess and her mother would walk together in the event to be held at Delaware Park.
But Forgione said area sponsorship, some 400 registered runners and some very successful independent fundraising has already resulted in the beginnings of a fund intended to help others in a similar predicament.
Two fundraising volunteers have raised roughly $25,000 since a kickoff party held in Buffalo last month - in addition to registration fees from race participants - even as organizers are hoping another 100 runners and walkers will sign up for the race later this month.
“Things have just really increased fundraising-wise,” she said.
The proceeds will be used nationally for various research and prevention initiatives, while a portion of the money stays locally to provide colon cancer screenings to those who do not have insurance.
Two race options are being planned, with the 5k run planned to loop Hoyt Lake with registration open at 7:30 a.m., and a mile-long walk for those who would rather take a more leisurely stroll in their stockings.
Advanced registration for the 5k is $30, and $40 on race day for runners 14 and older.
Youth rates for those 6 to 13 years old are $25 or $35 on race day. Registration for the 1 mile walk is $25 or $30 on race day.
In lieu of the traditional race T-shirt, Forgione said runners will be provided with a complimentary pair of boxer shorts. And no, running in your underwear isn’t mandatory, Forgione said. It’s merely encouraged.
Those interested in registering may go online at http://www.undy5000.org, and then click on the Buffalo, N.Y. location.
By Neale Gulley The Tonawanda News