It’s not often that you see an award-winning scientist post a picture of himself in his living room, wearing a cape and a pair of briefs over his regular clothes. Ron Davis, one of the scientists behind the Human Genome Project, helped launch a fundraiser for the neuro-immune disease he researches, by doing just that.
Many know Davis is the head scientist for the Open Medicine Foundation, a nonprofit set up to raise funds for the research he does with a team (including three Nobel laureates) at the Stanford Genome Technology Center. He’s studying myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS to save his son Whitney’s life.
But that doesn’t answer the question: what’s with the cape and tighty-whiteys?
“Because superheroes wear their undies on the outside, and you have to be a superhero to live with this disease!” says the Undies on the Outside campaign. “Wearing underwear on the outside symbolizes bringing an invisible illness, which is usually hidden away, out into the open.”
Linda Tannenbaum, the executive director of the Open Medicine Foundation, joined in with a post dressed in superhero clothes. Every person who posts a photo of themselves agrees to donate at least $10 to the Open Medicine Foundation, then tags three people to do the same within 24 hours.
The #UndiesChallenge launched on April 25th, and according to their Facebook page, has already raised over $5,000.00, halfway to their $10,000 goal by May 12th, ME Awareness Day. Simone, one of the organizers of the fundraiser, posted to her Facebook page yesterday and said, “I have felt so loved and supported this week, that so many have gone out of their way to do the challenge and make a donation. Thank you to everyone who has been a Superhero for ME/CFS this week! You have blown me away!”
Like the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge,” the #UndiesChallenge hopes to be a viral social media movement to raise funds for specifically Ron Davis’s research. When I sat with Ron in his office at Stanford recently, he said a few of the retired scientists he has working with him are doing it on a volunteer basis. “We need funding,” he said.
So how does one go about participating? We’re so happy you asked:
Take a photo, make a donation, post the photo to social media and cut and paste the following wording. Don’t forget to nominate three people!
I’m a Superhero and wearing my undies on the outside to end ME/CFS! I nominate X, Y and Z to do the #UndiesChallenge
HOW DO I DO THE CHALLENGE? (post your photo then copy & paste these instructions)
- Take a photo or video wearing your undies on the outside
- Donate$10 (USD) to the Open Medicine Foundation’s End ME/CFS Project at bit.ly/UOTO1
- Share the photo / video on social media using the hashtag #UndiesChallenge
- Tag 3 other people. They have 24 hours!
Let’s join together to raise money for the Open Medicine Foundation, increase the public’s awareness about ME/CFS, and have some fun doing it!