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The 'HugAgain' lets grandfather embrace grandchildren after stroke

CBS News 3/5/2022 Steve Hartman
screen-shot-2022-03-04-at-12-47-19-pm.png © CBS News screen-shot-2022-03-04-at-12-47-19-pm.png

Paragould, Arkansas — After a massive stroke eight years ago, Kevin Eubanks of Paragould, Arkansas, can now do pretty much anything. But he did lose the ability to use his left arm, which meant there was one really important thing he couldn't do.

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"Hugging with two arms," Eubanks told CBS News. "When you hug with one arm, to me — it wasn't real. And I missed it so deeply."

Prior to his stroke, hugging his grandchildren was his greatest joy. But over the years, he had resigned himself to never knowing the feeling again.

Then, a few weeks ago, his daughter Emily Eubanks Sisco, who teaches occupational therapy at Arkansas State University, introduced her dad 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 were all onboard with it," they said. "It just needed to happen."

They got together after class to invent a piece of adaptive equipment they named the HugAgain. Eubanks said it was so deceptively simple, he could have never imagined the effect.

With it, Eubanks was able to hug his oldest grandson, Cope. He then started crying.

"The emotion just 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.

"This is the first time I got to hug my boys," Eubanks said.

The women responsible for this moment hope to start a business to make hugs possible again for children everywhere. And if their first customer review was any indication, they'll be creating a lot more than a profit.

"You can start with a two-armed hug and I believe that could change the world," Eubanks said.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.   

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