Free Mom Hugs in Rehoboth Beach
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- Nonprofit Free Mom Hugs is in town to spread its mission during National Bullying Prevention Month.
Sara Cunningham was inspired by her journey with her son and learning more about the LGBTQ community to found the organization in 2016.
"We stood with our son at the Oklahoma City Pride Parade in 2014," she remembers. "We absorbed this idea that homosexuality and suicide were unforgivable and I had to re-examine everything that I believe."
Cunningham says in 2015 she made a button with "Free Mom Hugs" printed on it.
"I said to anyone that made eye contact with me, 'Could I offer you a free mom hug or a high five?' The first young woman that I hugged said it had been four years since she had a hug from her mother."
Tara Sheldon, who's a member of the CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors, says Cunningham's visit to Rehoboth is timed to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month.
"I've done a lot with the schools to try to advocate for bullying and to try to educate to reduce the incidents with bullying, specifically with LGBTQ children," she says.
During her visit, Cunningham plans to meet with the Cape Henlopen School District and advocates within the LGBTQ community to spread her free mom hugs and end bullying.
"We're a fairly new group and we have teams of people who will be mentors to individuals," says CAMP Rehoboth Council of Advocates Coordinator Beth Cohen. "We have family supporters."
"We need so many more examples of parents like her," says CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors President Chris Beagle. "Regardless of sexuality or economic status and what divides us, Sara represents the good in human kind that unites us."
That's the example Cunningham strives to set at home in Oklahoma and halfway across the country in Sussex County.
"What I'm doing now is just something I wish someone would have done when I was trying to figure it out," she says.
Cunningham will sign copies of her book, "How We Sleep at Night" at Browseabout Books on Saturday at 6 p.m.
A fundraiser for the Cape GSA and Rehoboth PFLAG will be held at Lefty's Alley and Eats in Lewes Monday from 4-8 p.m. There will be a film screening of "The Bullying Project."