Terry Cobb, left, and Vivian Kreeft hug Thursday at the Free Hugs Day event in downtown Kelowna. Both women lost their husbands in motorcycle accidents.
While the two women believe in the therapeutic power of wrapping their arms around each other, they also have similarly tragic stories that brought them together. Both of their husbands perished in motorcycle accidents that weren't their fault.
"We hug in Wayne's memory," said Cobb of her husband, who was killed in June 2010 while riding from Grand Forks to Kelowna, ironically for a funeral.
"Our 12-year-old son was on the back. He's alive because Wayne saved him. He's 16 now and will be here later to give out some hugs."
Kreeft was on the back of her husband Julius's Harley when they were rear-ended on Highway 97 in March 2012 by a motorist who was texting.
Julius was killed and the crash broke Vivian's hips.
"When I met Terry, we hugged," said Vivian. "Now, I come out to Free Hugs Day and hug whoever needs or wants one."
For those walking downtown who just happened to come across the dozen or so huggers holding Free Hugs signs at The Sails, the random embraces ranged from complete surprises and mildly embarrassing to welcoming and potentially life changing.
"Magical moments happen every year," said Cobb.
"This time of year for many is a happy time, but it can just as often be sad. A hug helps spread some love. There may be people who've just lost a loved one or have no one else."
Others made The Sails a destination knowing it was Free Hugs Day or because they knew one of the huggers.
So, they came down to show their support and engage in multiple embraces.
The huggers also handed out blue buttons with "I Make A Difference" printed on them.
The idea for Free Hugs Day actually started before Wayne Cobb died.
Like millions of others, he'd watched the touching YouTube video of the guy at the train station in London, England, who held a Free Hugs sign and embraced strangers.
Wayne said Kelowna should also have a Free Hugs event and started to plan it.
He died before it could come to fruition, so his wife and his best friend, Joey Stychin, planned the first Free Hugs Day for Boxing Day 2010, and it has been happening annually since.
Thyme Campbell dropped by for hugs and to announce that her Speak Up Society will now incorporate free hugs into its meetings the fifth of every month at The Sails.
"We meet here to brainstorm about social change," she said.
"I think giving and getting hugs is a great addition."