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Cupid's Undie Run to put 'hilarity in charity'

ATLANTA -- When a major diagnosis came to a longtime friend, Hannah Thompson figured the choice was easy to get involved with a cause that supported him.

So Thompson, a 2004 Parkview High graduate, did just that to help Drew Leathers, another Parkview graduate who is a couple years younger who was diagnosed in 2009 with Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder without a cure that allows tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. Thompson learned of the "Cupid's Undie Run" and soon became a co-coordinator with the event in Atlanta, which has its second annual run on Saturday at 1080 Peachree St. NE.

"When you grow up with someone, and they're kind of like your little brother, you really want to be involved any way possible," said Thompson, who is friends with the three Leathers brothers.

Leathers became a paraplegic during his battle with NF, spent about six months in a hospital, and was bedridden for the rest of the first year of his diagnosis. But Thompson said Leathers' progress since his diagnosis has been "amazing."

"He's probably one of the more optimistic, strong, caring, funny people that anyone would meet," she said.

Older brother Chad wanted to help Drew, and initially recruited three friends to create an event to support research for the Children's Tumor Foundation, the beneficiary of the event. So in 2010, the first run was in Washington, D.C., and it has since spread to 17 U.S. cities and Sydney, Australia.

A co-founder of the event, Tamara Forys, said people with NF have to overcome challenges daily, and this event puts attendees in an uncomfortable situation and, "some hilarity in charity."

Thompson said she expects about 300 runners in their underwear at the event, which begins at 2:30 p.m. and is set for a mile and a half. According to the event's web site, it has raised $25,137, and it has a goal of $50,000. To date, the overall Cupid's Undie Run has donated more than $400,000 to CTF.