Kelowna residents warmed by free hugs event

Community embraces Kelowna resident’s legacy

Warm hugs made braving frigid weather a lot more bearable for Kelowna residents who were downtown Tuesday afternoon.

The eighth annual free hug event was an homage to Kelowna resident Wayne Cobb, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2010 while saving his son.

One of the huggers braving the cold Tuesday remembers Cobb well, and said it’s a fitting tribute.

“Wayne was an amazing person who loved to hug,” Monique Saebels said. “He had such a big heart and he gave it to everyone. He’s here today… I know he is.”

Saebels is one of the few people who goes to the event and knew Cobb personally. Others, who did not know him, are dedicated to the event and maintaining his legacy.

RELATED: Boxing Day hugs to be handed out at Kelowna sails

Among them is Kathi Meyn, who knows Cobb’s wife and children. For her the event’s appeal lies in the fact it’s something she does with friends year after year, and that it makes a difference.

“It’s the camaraderie, the fun that we’re going to do this. It takes a little bit of bravery to go up and ask a person ‘do you want a hug?’” she said, adding that not everyone wants to partake and that’s OK, too.

Over the years she’s handed out countless hugs, and despite the fact there were few people out in the cold on Boxing Day she’d still doled out quite a few. Some, however, make more of an impression than others.

“The one that stands out to me was the widower who said he hadn’t been hugged in nine years,” said Meyn.

That, she said, had an affect on everyone who was there.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

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