Paragul, Arkansas – After a massive stroke eight years ago, Kevin Eubanks of Paragould, Arkansas, can now do just about anything. But he lost the ability to use his left arm, which meant there was one very important thing he couldn’t do.
“Hugging,” Eubanks told CBS News. “When you hug with one arm, for me it wasn’t real. And I missed it so much.”
Before her stroke, cuddling her grandchildren was her greatest joy. But over the years, he had resigned himself to never having that feeling again.
Then, a few weeks ago, his daughter Emily Eubanks Sisco, who teaches occupational therapy at Arkansas State University, introduced her father to her class. Eubanks told them how he missed those hugs.
“You could see it in his face and his eyes,” the students said. “It broke my heart. I was like, ‘We have to do something.'”
And so four students — who are studying to become occupational therapy assistants — did.
“We all agreed,” they said. “It just had to happen.”
They got together after class to invent a suitable piece of equipment they called the HugAgain. Eubanks said it was so simple he could never have imagined the effect.
With him, Eubanks was able to hug his eldest grandson, Cope. He then started crying.
“The emotion hit me and I couldn’t control it,” he said.
Especially after Cope’s little brother, Rigney, stepped in. Rigney was born after the stroke.
“It’s the first time I’ve kissed my boys,” Eubanks said.
The women responsible for this moment hope to start a business to make cuddling possible again for children around the world. And if their first customer review was any indication, they will create much more than profit.
“You can start with a two-armed hug and I think that could change the world,” Eubanks said.
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