In a world where everyone is angry and always ready to fight something or someone, it takes a lot to believe there is any kindness and love left to share.

However, Kenneth Nwadike Jr wants to turn things around, one hug at a time.

It all began at the annual Boston Marathon of 2014 which was only a year after the unfortunate bombing that happened during the previous year’s marathon.

Ken, who had been disqualified from the race after only 23 seconds held up a “Free Hugs” sign and offered hugs to the runners.

This move touched many of the runners because the Marathon meant a lot to most of them who had lost a lot during the 2013 marathon bombing. This inspired him to launch his Free Hugs Project as a means of spreading love and also tackling social issues.

Ken started running as a homeless teenager in high school and secured a scholarship to run Track and Field in college.

This was followed by a short professional running career with Nike Farm Team Olympic Development Program at Stanford Univeristy.

Together with his wife, Sabrina, he launched his own sports events company, Superhero events, based in San Diego.

They organise themed sports events which aim at not only charity but as a means of inspiring the runners into channeling their inner superhero for good. The events also promote general family fitness and health.

He recently took his campaign to various political rallies in Wisconsin and he met different responses at the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders rallies.

A lot of the Trump supporters were outrightly racist and hostile, one of them threatened to punch him if he didn’t support Donald Trump. However, he was received with warmth and open hands by Bernie Sander’s supporters. This video moved people on Facebook to start the hashtag #MakeAmericaLoveAgain which is still trending at the moment.

People like Kenneth restore our faith in humanity with their efforts at making things around them better. 

If a black man offering free hugs could be snubbed by Donald Trump’s supporters, we can only imagine how they treat Black men and women who work or live around them.


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.