Neerly Naked Mile leaves Hospitality House fully covered


Taylor Ward

Runners take off at the start of the annual Neerly Naked Mile event on Sanford Mall, Oct. 24, 2022. The event raises money and spreads awareness about Boone’s homeless population.

Grace Ficara, Reporter


Participants of the Neerly Naked Mile stood on Sanford Mall Monday evening in varying levels of clothing as they readied for participation in the fundraiser created by the Appalachian State Ambassadors, a group of student representatives on campus. 

“It’s the naked run, we have to watch this,” said a passing student with her friend as they walked by Sanford Mall. No, the participants aren’t quite naked, just ‘neerly. 

Being “Neerly Naked” isn’t required, but “it is encouraged,” said Anna Claire Carson, a junior and member of the Ambassadors. She sits at a booth and highlights students as they check in. 

In order to participate in the run, students on campus must donate winter clothes or $5 to the Hospitality House, a shelter in Boone providing housing, hunger relief and crisis assistance according to their website. Participants in campus organizations receive homecoming points if 30% of members participate, but any student is welcome to register, said Veronica Ford, junior accounting major and Neerly Naked Mile Coordinator for Ambassadors. 

“At any given point, especially during the winter, we can have up to 100 people in the shelter,” said Tori Rodriguez, the emergency shelter housing specialist for the Hospitality House.

Rodriguez made a speech at the ‘Neerly Naked Mile thanking the participants and letting them know their donations will be used this month, if not tonight, by residents in Boone in need of warm clothes and bedding. 

“If donations are insufficient, we will survive, but donations make it a lot easier,” Rodriguez said. 

Every day last week, the Hospitality House checked weather temperatures in order to come up with a plan in the event of a “big bed capacity.” With cold weather approaching, the Hospitality House has had to start considering hypothermia for people who don’t wish to enter the center due to various reasons, Rodriguez said. 

After the students checked into the event, they painted on themselves to show their school spirit. Some students wrote their affiliated Greek letters or organizations, others wrote things like “ASU” in yellow or black and others had handprints stamped on them and were covered in glitter.

Throughout the duration of the event, radio station WASU 90.5 played 2000s music as an ode to this year’s homecoming theme, “APP2K.” Their station manager, Matthew Schweikert, was also participating in the race. 

Participants of the mile can either walk or run, but some chose another form of transportation and started the race on unicycles. The mile starts on Sanford Mall and goes in a circular motion through Rivers Street. 

Although technically described as a race, there are no winners or losers. When a student is done with the mile, Ambassadors had free waters waiting for them. 

Ambassadors raised 295 clothing donations for Hospitality House and are currently in the process of counting their venmo donations, Ford said.