LAKELAND (FOX 13) - When some people pass you on the street, they don't even make eye contact. You pass Brian Alvear and he'll probably stop you and ask if you want a hug.
"Everyone feels better after a hug," he told FOX 13.
Alvear started a hugging campaign called "Hugs not Hate" after his sister Amanda and her friend Mercedes Flores, both from Haines City, were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting last June, along with 47 other victims.
"I was always a hugger, but it was never with a purpose," he said. "Now there is a purpose, there's a story behind it."
The first two weeks after the shooting, Alvear hugged nearly 2,000 people, many of them at his sister's funeral. Since then, he has hugged so many people he has lost count.
"I don't know where I'm at," Alvear said. "I'm at a lot of hugs."
Through social media, other people around the world have embraced his idea of hugging complete strangers.
"I can take a break and I know someone is giving someone a hug for ‘Hugs not Hate,’ and that is amazing."
This weekend, Alvear will be able to really up his numbers. He will be attending the event to remember the one-year anniversary of the shooting, called "Remembering the Angels."