For many incoming freshmen, the advertisements for a university-sponsored event closely resembling a mile long streak across campus may be perplexing.
But these intriguing advertisements are doing exactly what they are meant to do: raise awareness.
The Nearly Naked Mile is hosted annually by the Student Alumni Association in order to collect clothing donations that go to the Jonnycake Center.
The Jonnycake Center, located in Westerly, Rhode Island, acts as a clothing donation site to provide gently used clothes at a reduced price for locals in crisis situations. The non-profit organization works to provide other additional household items and serves as as a food pantry and an educational and financial assistance center as well.
Last year, the Nearly Naked Mile hosted approximately 250 runners who donated clothing items in exchange for the opportunity to run across campus in minimal clothing.
While it is advertised to run with a majority of your birthday suit exposed, the event’s main focus is uniting the student body to help raise awareness about homelessness and to support those who currently face it.
This year, the Rotaract Club is partnering with SAA to gather donations from participants, particularly sneakers. The Rotaract Club and URI senior basketball player Ifeanyi Onyekaba have a mission to collect as many as 200 pairs of shoes to send to Nigeria. Onyekaba has a personal tie to this goal, as he heads Nigeria’s very first non-profit organization, Unsung Talent Basketball, which the shoes will help service.
Born and raised in Abuja, Nigeria, Onyekaba knows the opportunities that have been afforded to him through basketball. Playing as a center for the Rams, Onyekaba wants to spread his love for the sport and provide similar opportunities to Nigerian children back home. Unsung Talent Basketball provides girls and boys with an opportunity to participate in a basketball camp free of charge. However, many of the children face the issue of not having proper attire to play.
Regardless, these obstacles do not stop them from trying. As a firsthand witness to the passion and talent of these Nigerian children, Onyekaba has set out on his mission to collect as many pairs of sneakers as possible for the camp and to keep Unsung going.
To participate, visit the URI Nearly Naked Mile 2015 site to register for the event. The only fee to join is a clothing or shoe donation. Gently used clothes are preferred and any sneakers available are greatly appreciated. Whether new or worn, designer or knock-off, the shoes will be passed on to those in need.
The event will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 30, beginning with fun body painting, photo booths, Zumba warm-ups and games on the quad at 5 p.m. Starting around 6 p.m., the run will go around a path outlining the upper portion of campus and end with refreshments for all participants. Participants are welcome to come nearly naked, in costume, or wearing Rhody gear.