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USU students hug Big Blue to raise micro-loan funds

Herald Journal
By Kevin Opsahl

Breaking the world record begins in 3 ... 2 ... 1.

And with that, students who had lined up in the Quad on the campus of Utah State University on a bright Wednesday afternoon began hugging their mascot, "Big Blue."

The goal: Beat a record held by Mario - of Nintendo fame - who, in Australia, received an impressive 172 hugs in the space of 20 minutes - setting the world record for the most hugs by a mascot character in 20 minutes.

"He needs hugs; he needs you," shouted Matt Seely, a USU sophomore majoring in business administration.

I think Big Blue's left arm hurts."

Big Blue didn't seem to mind.

The event was sponsored by the Small Entrepreneurs Education Development group within USU's John M. Huntsman School of Business. It's a nonprofit group on campus that will issue micro-business loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Andrea Winkler, a business school student majoring in accounting, said it will help the struggling economies in other countries, like those in Africa.

"It's a really good cause," Winkle said. "We thought this (event) would be a good way to get people excited."

The event drew a small group of people, but Seeley and the group of huggers worked hard attract others' attention. Some students who left the Ray B. West building after class or even random passers-by joined in. One student rode in on his bike, telling people to make way for him, then headed off in the other direction.

Big Blue was his usual jovial self, hugging small children and posing for pictures with students while dressed in his trademark USU Aggies sports jersey with a ring in his nose.

When the 20 minute period was up - and with an unofficial count of 959 hugs - Big Blue received a group hug from students.