Valentine's Day 2017

Impulse to Action: How I Embraced A Whole City

- Standing with a girl at the Denver Islamic Society

- Standing with a girl at the Denver Islamic Society

“What the hell is going on in the world…everyone is protesting…Could someone save a fucking cat from a tree and do something to give me something good to look at in the news.”  

A gym member said this after he walked past a phalanx of protesters and anti-protester protesters to get to his workout.

 Before January 25th, I wasn't thinking of doing anything special for Valentine's Day; I was just going on about my day. But, there was something about his exasperated and rhetorical words that felt like a direct statement to me.

I felt an immediate an overwhelming impulse to "do something.”

Now, impulsive minds race to a lot of places and through a lot of options and mine is no different. That said, I hastily came up with the idea of going to the heart of the country for hugs and high5s on February 14th and providing people with some simple and good news.

In the subsequent days, I discovered that the nation’s geographic center is in Lebanon, KS and contacted everyone from the Lebanon's Mayor, Kansas' Governor, the local Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas State police, local shopkeepers and others to try and establish the most basic parameters for my “Hug Party.”

After many conversations that were mostly my convincing folks that my intentions were pure- things were set: I was going to establish a “Hug & High5 Station” in Lebanon’s City Hall, library and a few local businesses and embrace anyone that came my way.

It wasn’t much but it is what I had.

My stated goals were simple: to embrace and connect with people that didn’t look, worship or think like me.

- a man standing with my sign at the heart of the country

- a man standing with my sign at the heart of the country

But my biggest goal was to hug all of Lebanon…or at least half of town’s 195 person population.

And, I won’t hold you in suspense; I achieved all of my goals.

That’s right, I hugged a whole city.

Every aspect of my “Getting to the Heart of It” tour was all I could hope for and more.

From flying out of Philadelphia and into Denver to visit Colorado’s oldest Mosque and high5ing Muslim children and teachers - to driving over 350 miles to reach nation's geographic center and being greeted by a man that called me "the talk of the town" and while hugging me followed up with,  “Of all the places in the nation that you could have come to do this - you chose us. I am so glad that you are here.” - to engaging over 100 people on Valentine’s Day - it was awesome.

There were also some unforeseen nuances to this tour that made it especially cool like being fortunate enough to embrace a 100 and 99-year-old woman -pictured above and having people share that they drove from across Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming just to get a hug….from me…how honoring….how humbling. 

'Getting to the heart of it all’ definitely got to my heart.

The COOLEST sign I have seen on a door by far

The COOLEST sign I have seen on a door by far

There is certainly a lot more to say but I will end it here with one word:  Believe.

Believe that some rhetorical statements are actually calls to your action.

I actually created some good news for people to read  in two newspapers: Philly and Kansas

Believe that making your first goals very attainable only give you the energy to go after the all of your goals - stated and otherwise. 

By the time the Hertz shuttle driver in Denver stood up and said, “I am not letting you off this bus without giving me a hug” I knew that this trip was going to be a success.

Believe that you whether you have succeeded of failed - your attempts in life have afforded you a wealth of experience and lessons that you can use to achieve.

There are only two possible outcomes when you attempt something: you can get what you wanted OR you can find out why you didn’t. That said,  I was only able to confidently call the mayor and governor because I have called other elected officials and CEO’s in the past and learned a lot of from those attempts. 

Believe that you can achieve.

Believe in you.


And, if you find yourself doubting; call me and let’s talk about it.

Hugs and High5s

Big Dave 

David Hale SylvesterComment