Juan Mann's free hug campaign started two years ago when Juan went back to his hometown in Australia to find that his friends and family had moved away. "I was the only person I knew in my own hometown," he says. "So I wanted to get out there and do something that spread a little bit of cheer and cheered me up, and this was the first thing that really came to mind."
The first time he stood in public with his "Free Hugs" sign, Juan says it took an agonizing 15 minutes to receive his first hug. "This one lady came up and gave me a hug and it was really, really worth it," Juan says. From that first hug a campaign was born! Thanks to a video on the website YouTube, Juan's movement is spreading worldwide—he is even organizing a global hug day!
So do people think he's crazy? "All the time," Juan says. "People tend to be a bit wary of strange men in velvet coats walking around with giant signs."