Lending Leaders
The Difference Kindness Makes with Big Dave

LLL had the pleasure of visiting with our Philadelphia neighbor, David Hale “Big Dave” Sylvester recently.

A story of happiness arising out of a tragedy

Big Dave’s story started after he lost a friend in the violence of September 11, 2001. From there, he has been high fiving and hugging people all over the world in his own campaign to make the world a better place. To date, Big Dave estimates that he’s hugged or high-fived people in all 50 states and 42 different nations. He is also the author of the book “One Hug at a Time.”

The world’s most prolific hug party host

One of Big Dave’s go-to vehicles for reaching out has been hosting “hug parties.” He’s made a point of holding them in the geographic center of the United States (Lebanon, Kansas) and North America (Robinson, North Dakota), among others. But Big Dave noted that it’s been a challenge to stay creative during the pandemic.

A memorable tour

One way by which Big Dave was able to keep his good work going was to drive to each of the 48 contiguous states during the height of the pandemic lock down in 2020. He maintains that was a time, above all other times, when people needed kindness and good news, and his tour was the means by which he hoped to spread the word. He recalled checking into a hotel in Idaho, where a woman asked him why someone would do such a thing. His response brought her to tears: “To see your smile!” The woman showed him that smile, saying “Nobody’s ever said such a nice thing to me before. It’s never mattered to anyone.” “It matters to me, “ he responded.

The importance of good news

Big Dave thinks it’s important for all of us to realize we’re actually a lot closer to each other than we are distant. There’s always some way for us to move forward during challenging times. “That’s why we live,” he exclaimed. “Good news is important,” he told us. “You can’t just give up [when times are hard]. Your smile matters to more people than you realize. 

Unfortunately, Big Dave admits that we live during times when someone behaving with kindness is the exception to the rule; where someone not being rude or grumpy is not the “weird thing.” But he finds it critical to create “an eddy of good vibes that keeps going and churning.” In fact, it’s that eddy that gets him excited for each new day.

You can find Big Dave on Instagram (thehumanhighfive) or learn more about him, including his book, at 

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