"Free Hugs, High Fives, Peaceful Pounds!"
Kemy Joseph cannot walk through the University of Miami campus without being stopped repeatedly by people who know him. However, he does not just talk to people he already knows; he approaches everyone he passes, offering them a free hug.
He walks purposefully around campus wearing a red t-shirt sporting the words 'U R Awesome', another of which is turned into a make-shift cape, with a large sign around his neck. Far from being the classic sandwich board, his sign announces in bright red letters that he is giving out 'Free Hugs, High Fives, & Peaceful Pounds,' complete with small hearts dotting the 'i's.
While most people might get weird looks dressed in such an outfit and offering strangers free hugs, Kemy is greeted by a huge smile from most of the students. Even the odd look of confusion is soon done away with once Kemy has explained his motives, the essence of which is to spread love, awesomeness and compassion wherever he goes.
Kemy started U R Awesome Inc. in the fall of 2009, though he had long been wearing signs advertising free hugs around campus. His desire to do so was fueled in part by the support he received from his friends and family after the death of his father. Their belief in his potential to follow and achieve his dreams was exactly the inspiration he needed to do the same for others.
Though the concept of paying it forward is not a new one, Kemy is showing what a difference each person can make to the people around them simply by believing in the power to change the world one person at a time. He believes the best reason is to get "people genuinely wanting to be nice and brightening their day."
In addition to proffering free hugs around campus, Kemy and his team of volunteers sell U R Awesome t-shirts to raise money, as well as donating them to those in need. They also organize clothing drives and give away hygiene kits to shelters and people unable to afford such necessities.
Kemy's energy is infectious. His ability to help others bring out their own sense of self-confidence is enough to make each person he speaks to feel awesome, even for that brief moment in which he gives them a free hug.
Kemy is currently on his World Kindness Tour, driving around the US on a bright red scooter. The aim of the tour is to emphasize the difference that can be made with just a little effort and positivity. As he travels, he is giving speeches -- aptly named 'The Art of Being Awesome' -- about the importance of being awesome and realizing one's own awesomeness. And of course, he is continuing to give out free hugs, high fives and peaceful pounds.
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