Strippin’ in the Rain: Runners shed their duds to keep homeless kids warm and dry

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    It was barely light when the Richmond Beach Running Club converged on the Five Corners Caffe Ladro in a heavy Saturday morning drizzle to kick off a hands-down creative charity event in which runners literally give the shirts off their backs to benefit homeless youth.

    Club members are all avid runners from a variety of areas including Shoreline, Edmonds, Lake Forest Park and Everett. They regularly meet up to celebrate their shared joy of cruising through neighborhoods and parks, along beaches, trails and city streets, filling their lungs with air, feeling their heart rates rise, and being soothed by the rhythm of their breathing and footfalls. But as the metabolism rises and the body warms up, clothing that felt just right at the beginning of a run can become hot and burdensome, and runners often find themselves shedding clothing mid-run and tying it around their waists, stuffing it in backpacks, or even abandoning it by the side of the road.

    After just such an experience, club members Cinzia Fratini, Liz Bowerman and Betty Lider had an “aha” moment. Why not give the clothing they take off during a run to people who really need it. And who needs clothing more than homeless youth?

    And so the Stripper Run was born.

    Saturday’s inaugural event comprised a 6-mile run from Five Corners to Perrinville and then back along Olympic View Drive. Rather than limit themselves to the clothes on their backs, the runners carried shopping bags and backpacks stuffed with additional donations of socks, underwear, hats, gloves and jackets. Along the route, volunteers posted at pre-designated collection points waited with bags and boxes to pick up the items “shed” by the runners.

    All clothing will be donated to Seattle Youth Care, which provides a range of programs and services including housing, job training, education, counseling, health care and more, all aimed at helping homeless youth get off the streets and prepared for life.

    — Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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