Gail Goodwin Wants To Give You A Hug: The Global Hug Tour

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1. Tell me about you

My name is Gail Lynne Goodwin and I’m the founder of InspireMeToday.com. Prior to InspireMeToday.com, I founded Dreaming Bear Music, a Nashville record label, in 2004. I spent several years managing my daughter, Carly's music career where I had the honor of accompanying my daughter to many US military bases where she performed for our troops.

In 2006 Carly and I created the 'World's Longest Letter' of love and support to our troops, the Baby Come Back Home Soldier Scrolls. The scrolls reached more than 18 miles in length when they were signed by Congress at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, just a week before we left to deliver the scrolls to 18 bases on a month-long tour of Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

Touched by a Marine named Jesse who requested a hug and shared with me that inspiration is what gets him through the time in Iraq, I returned to the US and created InspireMeToday.com. The first thing we did was build the site so that anyone with a .mil email address- all 2.5 million of our troops, would have unrestricted free access to the site, so Jesse’s iPod will always be full of great material. The site was launched in April 2008 and already reaches members in more than 80 countries!

2. Tell me about GlobalHugTour

In May 2009, my husband Darryl, a veteran pilot, and I will take off in a small prop plane and fly 30,000 miles around the world, stopping at 50 cities in 45 different countries delivering inspiration.
We will also give 2000 hugs per visit, literally wrapping our arms around the world with 100,000 hugs to show just how small the world really is.

In order to also make a tangible difference, we plan to personally deliver an estimated $1,000,000 to important causes throughout the tour- specifically targeting poverty, education, health care, children's and women's needs, wildlife preservation and entrepreneurship. This money will be raised through a grass-roots movement from individuals all over the world through the sponsorship of $10 hugs.  For a $10 contribution, anyone can become a Hug Ambassador by sponsoring the delivery of a hug. You get to choose the city and cause where your donation will make a difference- from Chennai, India, to support the efforts of Dr. Mani's Children's Heart Foundation where just 100 hugs- or $1000 will save the life of a child; to a preserve in Chiang Mai, Thailand to help rebuild the threatened elephant population.

You can find more information and sponsor your hug at http://GlobalHugTour.com

3. Why are you doing this? What do you hope will happen?

In a time where fear, doom and gloom seem to be the topic of the day, we choose to change the focus to something positive. Through opening our hearts and celebrating our global connectivity, bridges can be built between us.

I hope that this tour will be an example to people. I had one friend express the only negative reaction to date, when she asked, “Who are you to do this; you’re not Oprah!” I thanked her for the comment because that’s EXACTLY why I AM doing this! That’s the whole point! Not only is Oprah a very busy lady, but if I can do this, then what can you do, what can he do and what can she do? If two regular people can follow their dream, then what’s stopping you from following yours?

Imagine a world where we all played big, where we all contribute to the world in a bigger and more tangible way. If everyone focused on what’s right instead of what’s wrong, we might not be mired in a recession and fear wouldn’t be the main focus in our world. We want to inspire people to step forward in faith instead of fear and follow their own dream, knowing that with belief, anything is possible! I know that sounds like a lofty goal, but if just one person is empowered from our story, our effort will have been worth it.

4. How are people responding to this? Have any great stories?

First and foremost, I am grateful, humbled and stunned by the outpouring of love and support for this tour. It has captured the imagination of folks around the world. From the first person we shared this with, the overwhelming response has been, “How can I help”.

In our Global Hug Tour, we have a story that people dream about, a story that people can't help but spread and the benefits to important causes gain in value, as more people are aware of the Global Hug Tour. It's also fun and adventurous, and just might get some folks' minds off of doom and gloom long enough to see the possibilities in their own life.

People are embracing the Global Hug Tour and supporting it as if it were their own. Just last week Bob Proctor, Les Brown, Marcia Weider went on video to talk about how this trip will make such a difference. Leeza Gibbons called the idea “amazing!”. Yesterday in our first three hours of launching the site without publicity, 50 hugs were sold around the world.

At a recent Internet conference in Las Vegas, Gary Vaynerchuk labeled the Global Hug Tour as “freakin’ awesome!”. After talking about it in a session one morning, many people approached me during the day to say "Thank you" for what we're doing with the Global Hug Tour, and to share how just hearing about it brightened their day. We were handing out hundreds of cards that said "HUG SOMEONE" and people were doing just that. It was almost if everyone had permission to hug someone else and the energy of the place shifted. The online community is already a very warm and friendly bunch but it was if another barrier between people had been removed.

At the end of the day a gentleman approached me and told me he “owed me”. When I asked what he meant, he reached into his backpack and pulled out an 8 x 10 photo of Gary V and himself hugging, which had only been taken earlier that morning. In spite of being at a trade show, he'd already had this printed and was proudly sharing it with others. He told me this photo wouldn’t have happened without our discussion of the Global Hug Tour.

He asked me if I'd noticed a difference in the energy of the room and how the conference seemed friendlier because of the goodwill that we shared that morning. People were sharing hugs and he was grateful. People were talking possibility and that is what the Global Hug Tour is really all about.

5. How are you inspiring people to participate?

Part of the beauty of the Global Hug Tour is that is was conceived as a way for everyone to be involved. We'll take you with us every step of the way. I'll be doing a written and a video blog, outlining the experience, along with Twitter and FaceBook updates, as Internet access is available. Links will be provided to schools to follow our journey to learn and celebrate the unique geographical, political, religious, cultural and climate differences along the way. We even have an interactive adventure map being developed that will allow you to watch our little plane fly from one country to another and track the progress of the trek. We want to leave smiles, hugs and love in our path.

Beth Kanter, BlogHer CE for Nonprofits and Social Change, writes Beth's Blog.

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