Sporting pink onesie pajamas and tennis shoes, Viktoria Rekasius and Jessica Kozik started running in the cold, brisk January weather eager to cross the finish line.
They started the race with layers and layers of clothing — gradually shedding each piece, including their onesies— ending the “Nearly Naked Mile” wearing only their shorts and tank tops. The purpose of the race, which happened Saturday, Jan. 25 at Carman Hall, was for runners to donate their clothing and shoes to local charities.
As they ended the race, Rekasius’s parents were there cheering and applauding the running duo -- glad they had made the almost 3 1/2-hour drive from Orland Park to Charleston, even though it meant leaving at 7 a.m. Saturday to make it on time.
“We love our daughter and wanted to come and support her,” Violeta Rekasius said.
Originally they planned to come to town to deliver their daughter a calculator, but they decided they would come earlier to watch the race.
“I thought it was a unique experience, and I wanted to see it,” Violeta Rekasius said.
With single-digit temperatures earlier in the week, both runners and parents described the weather as “not bad” even though the temperatures were in the 30s on the day of the race.
Viktoria Rekasius, a freshman management major, and Kozik, a freshman sociology and English major, have participated in runs before, but never a “Nearly Naked Mile.”
“I saw the signs for the race around campus,” Viktoria Rekasius said. “It seemed like such a good idea – giving your clothes to a good cause.”
The race was sponsored by the Students Today Alumni Tomorrow group and Student Community Service. All the clothing items were donated to the Standing Stone Community Center in Charleston. Erin Clemons, organizer of the event, said this is the first year they sponsored the mile.
“By running in the mile, participants helped people in our community, who cannot afford warm winter clothing,” Clemons said. “Now, they will be able to keep warm for the rest of the winter.”
Some runners also donated their shoes to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program, and the registration proceeds from the race went to the Charleston Food Pantry.