Wearing just their skivvies, thousands of nearly-naked Albertans raised more than $1.5 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation in support of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the Cross Cancer Institute.
This June, the Underwear Affair saw 1,256 people hit the streets around Calgary’s Stampede Park and another 1,451 race around the Northlands Expo Centre in Edmonton, dressed up, or dressed down, to raise money for cancers below the belt. Organizers encouraged participants to “drop everything and fight cancers below the waist.” Teams in both cities raised money in a five-kilometre walk or a 10-kilometre run. The entire event was sponsored by Mark’s Work Warehouse.
Stevie Pawluk’s team, the Village People, dressed as the 1970s disco group and raised $3,428. Pawluk, also a cheerleader for the Calgary Stampeders, says the event helped bring young people together for cancer fundraising. “I think it’s a really great way to get young adults involved in charity events,” she says. Playing the role of the cowgirl, Pawluk, 19, walked the five-kilometre circuit with two high school friends and two fellow Stampeders Outriders, who were dressed as the remaining band members.
Rathada Korn, a 24-year-old mechanical engineer, appreciated the organizers’ lighter approach to cancer fundraising, and says the idea to hold a costume party themed race helped attract a lot of young adults. “It’s something fun, it’s not something sad.”
Korn ran in the 10-kilometre race through Edmonton with 10 women, mostly ultra-sound technicians, who called themselves the “Sexy Sonographers.” Wearing tank tops and shorts with bright-pink paint and pink bikini bottoms, the team raised $4,000.