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I Run For Maya: Interview with Laura Pells

There are so many reasons to participate in Cupid’s Undie Run. From the obvious (it’s fun af) to the less obvious (because you know someone who has NF and want to help make their lives better).

We want to feature some of our participants, and get the scoop from them on why they run.

We had a chat with a mother whose young daughter was diagnosed with NF as a baby. She explores what it’s like to live and love someone with NF, as well as how she gets involved with Cupid’s Undie Run.

Quick Profile

Name: Laura Pells
Team Name: The Pells Pals
CUR City: Denver
Years Participated: 4
NF Affected: Yes, our daughter Maya

Interview with Laura Pells

Why do you participate in Cupid’s Undie Run?

Why do I participate in Cupid’s Undie Run? Her name is Maya. She is my daughter. She is my heart.

When Maya was seven months old, she was diagnosed with NF1, and my world was ever-changed.

It’s a strange feeling, learning that your “normal” as you know it is suddenly undergoing a massive shift.

Reeling from the diagnosis and scrambling for answers, I researched and learned and tried to equip myself with as much information about NF as possible. Beyond the facts, I knew I needed a support system.

With my loyal and generous family and friends by my side, I was fortunate enough to meet several members of the NF community. I walked in the NF Walk in September and sought other ways to raise money and awareness for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. And before I knew it, the phrase “Undie Run” entered my vernacular. Run? Underwear? Charity?

Yes, please!

I run for awareness. I run for research. I run for Maya. 

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How did you convince your friends to join you?

To the runners, I say, “You get to run for charity!”

To the partiers, I say, “There’s beer!”

To the modest, I say, “You can wear anything you want!”

To the bold, I say, “You get to run in your underwear. In February!”

I am fortunate enough to have some of the most loyal friends in town!

The first year, my sister, brother, cousins, best friends, coworkers, and neighbors agreed to join me in the run. Their loyalty runs deep, and not even running in their undies in February was going to stop them!

Over time, and with persistence, several other friends and acquaintances joined The Pells Pals. When I place a face with NF (plus the beer and the bods) and give this medial condition a personal connection, many people are willing to stand with me for this great cause.

Do you run in underwear or a costume?

Well, “underwear” is a loose term for the Pells Pals.

I usually run in short boxer shorts and a tank top. And I wear purple (Maya’s favorite color) suspenders. This year, our team will be donning purple “Pells Pals” headbands!

You are crushing it with fundraising! Can you share tips of how you ask for donations?

I start fundraising in November. Like I’ve said, our family and friends are some of the most kind and generous people I know. Our same loyal supporters have continued to give year after year, and they are the ones who lift my spirits and keep me going.

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There is usually a lull in December, so I send a second email asking for donations. I always provide facts about how their money is helping and how the research is making a difference!

In addition, I connect it back to Maya to remind folks of WHY I do what I do.

Around January, I begin posting messages on social media, but try to be careful not to desensitize my FB followers. I’ll post one at the beginning of the month and one at the end of January/beginning of February.

Then, the push is on! I’ll provide more specific facts and details about the work and the research and post specific amounts of money we need to meet our goal.

I try to encourage that any amount helps and that it all adds up. 

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What advice do you have for people who are unaffected by NF and don’t know how to fundraise? 

Use social media. Post personal stories.

Providing people with specific information about how their money is helping is also a plus.

In addition, the Children’s Tumor Foundation gets a 4/4 rating on charitynavigator.org, and the majority of the money raised is truly going to research to help save young lives!

Do you have a favorite memory of Cupid’s Undie Run that you would like to share?

Aside from the overall shenanigans that running in your underwear in February entails, watching my cousin, Jesse, get his armpits waxed in front of hundreds of people may be a highlight!

Big thanks to Laura and the Pells Pals for their hard work and support!

For more about Laura, Maya, and the Pells Pals, check out their Cupid’s Undie Run team page.