Students shed layers for homeless in Polar Bare Run


by Rob Logsdon, reporter

Every cold, blustery winter in Iowa, hundreds of homeless and underprivileged Iowans suffer through the cold months with inadequate clothing. One organization at Simpson College stepped up to help fight this issue with a fun-filled charity run Monday night.

Simpson’s Student Alumni Association (SAA) hosted their second annual Polar Bare Run. It is a concept similar to that of a Mud Run, Color Run or other fun runs to raise awareness and money for charities.

The charity SAA chose as their benefactor was the Central Iowa Shelter & Services organization. CISS started in 1992 and is dedicated to providing free shelter and meals to homeless people in the Des Moines area.  

The alumni advisor to the Student Alumni Association, Andy English, explained the choice of CISS. “Jorie Landers, a Simpson alum and former employee that used to work with our volunteer programs, now works at CISS, so we have the connection there,” English said. “We were also looking for a shelter that didn’t charge people for the goods they give out, so it is going to people that are in the greatest need.”

The reason the title “Polar Bare Run” is because at the end of the run, runners were mostly bare skinned.

SAA President Alex Cutchey explained the premise of the run. “You take off layers at four different drop points that we have along the Simpson route.”

The route started by the maple tree sculpture on the new Pedestrian Plaza, and went south on the plaza to the sidewalk in front of McNeill Hall. From McNeill, the route turned east to the front of Smith Chapel and took a sharp right north, toward Wallace Hall. The final leg of each lap was from Wallace to Mary Berry Hall. It was a five lap run, with a drop off point at each building.

The runners were very closely compacted for the first lap, but after that, Clay Harris, a member of the Simpson wrestling team, settled into a quicker pace than the rest of the group.

“I kind of ran for fun and wanted to keep a pace where I could keep a conversation with someone. I wouldn’t say I was working too hard because I was able to talk the whole time,” Harris said after the race. He was one of the more animated runners, flexing his arms for the small crowd of onlookers while shedding his first layer of clothing.

Harris ended up in a Speedo he borrowed from his roommate, and when asked about how it was he said, “It really wasn’t THAT bad. I told myself ‘hey, it’s only a mile, it can’t get that cold in that span of time’ and I kept that mentality the whole time, so it wasn’t too bad. My favorite part of the whole thing was being able to run around campus basically in my underwear and not get in trouble.”

Cutchey participated in the event in addition to helping plan it.

“I thought it was a lot of fun; it got your adrenaline pumping and good sense of camaraderie with the people that were running with you. Also, it’s really cool when there’s people there cheering you on,” Cutchey remarked after the race.

The event is one of many SAA has been working on.

“The whole idea with the Polar Bare Run is to be a fun event that’s a kickoff to student philanthropy week,” Cutchey said.

The rest of the week, SAA is doing a Scavenger Hunt and will have a table in the Kent Campus Center for students to win prizes and learn more about student-alumni relations. 

The Polar Bare Run this year was smaller than last, but the end goal is to have a big crowd running around campus donating clothes. Save up those old clothes and participate next year in the Polar Bare Run.