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UI Hug-A-Thon Raises Money For Equal Rights

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (KGAN/KFXA) - Some University of Iowa students are going to have some very tired arms. On Friday they took part in a Hug-A-Thon to help promote equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

Their hope was to break the world hugging record  that now stands at 25 minutes and 10 seconds. At the same time, their goal was to promote equal rights.

Two groups of huggers started working toward the record at 11:45 a.m. on Friday. They received a five minute break for every hour they hugged. Groups were able to combine their break minutes if they wanted to. By about 6:30 p.m. on Friday, it was down to one group.  Aaron Walker, a UI Freshman, was part of the group who ended their embrace.

“I love hugging, who doesn’t?” Walker said. He went on to add that hugging in small doses would be his preference in the future.   

Yet, for the huggers still standing at 9:30 p.m. Friday night, they said the squeeze for equal right is worth it. Zach Heffernen, the President of UI Students for Equal Rights, brought the huggers together. 

“LGBTQ  and equality in the United States is one of the biggest abuses or violations of human rights,” Heffernen  said.

 They were all hoping their hug would make it in the Guinness Book of World Records. They also hoped it would make a statement for equality in the LBGTQ community.

“I think LGBTQ equality, complete equality is inevitable, but we still need the people that will push for that, and I think today is a sign of progress,” Heffernen said. 

The hugging rules are strict. Huggers can’t lay down and hug, they can’t sit and hug either. Huggers must stand and hug, but if they  lift an arm and break the hug that could mean disqualification. So cameras record all of the huggers’ movements. 

“So we need the cameras on… so you can really see their arms and whether or not they’re moving,” UI Senior and camera operator, David Lam-Lu said.

Unfortunately, it was one of those arm lifts caught on camera that disqualified the huggers 9 hours and 41 minutes into their embrace.  However, the group still raised more than $1,000 for their cause.
For the huggers, there were trophies and a second reward.  

”We’re going to get a gift card to Red Lobster, so we’re going to treat ourselves to a nice dinner after this,” UI Sophomore hugger, Lelia Mustafa said.
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