(Image Credit David Hale Sylvester)
Twenty-four hours ago I had never heard of David Hale Sylvester.
Twenty-four hours ago people he was high-fiving and hugging had never heard of him either.
A story by Jenice Armstrong in the Philadelphia Daily News got me up to speed on “Big Dave” (as his friends call him…6-3, 260 Lbs., all muscle) who bills himself as the “HumanHigh5.”
Dave was in Lebanon, Kansas yesterday high-fiving and hugging strangers. Why? On 9/11 he lost a friend working in the World Trade Center. A second friend was also working there but managed to get out safely. A third was out of his WTC office on a business trip to Japan. A fourth overslept that morning.
Shortly after the memorial service for his buddy he decided to trek across the US on his bike to raise awareness and money for charity.
He’s still at it having biked across 15 states and 21 foreign countries. Last year he drove around the US, stopping in places touched by gun violence…high-fiving and hugging folks. This year he wants to bike across all 50 states, high-fiving and hugging as many people as possible.
How did the intersection of Lebanon, Kansas and Valentine’s Day come into view on Dave’s radar? Another friend mentioned to him last month how frustrated America seems to be with itself lately – Dave takes it from there:
“A friend was talking about how divided we are as a nation and how we need some good news. I got the idea of being in the center of the country on Valentine’s Day and giving hugs and high-fives to everyone.”
Lebanon, Kansas is the geographic center of the lower forty-eight states. Mayor Rick Chapin on Dave’s plan:
“Anymore, not too much surprises me. He’s traveled quite a bit of the world spreading unity. You’re always a little skeptical but everything seems OK. The premise is good. We are pretty divided right now. One side sees it one way and another sees it the other way. This may not help but it won’t hurt.”
Lebanon only has a couple hundred residents or so but they’ve seen other visitors on-location of late as its unique location makes for a symbolic storyline…where the country divides in half.
This is not my first “visit” to Lebanon…the little town is featured on the CW series Supernatural as the adopted home of Sam and Dean Winchester, living there in a former base of a secret society known as the “Men of Letters.”
A man of hugs, on Valentine’s Day Dave wasn’t in Philadelphia serving as a personal trainer at a fitness center. He was instead in the middle of the country serving as an example…looking to make strangers feel good…as well as those learning of his visit.
Getting people to smile. Giving them some peace.
Dave summarizes it in six words:
“We just need a good story.”