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Kemy Joseph

Photo by Paul Neevel.

“I was a troublemaker as a kid,” says Kemy Joseph, the seventh of 10 children of divorced parents in Miami. “I was kicked out of school in fourth grade.” He got arrested twice in eighth grade, but turned things around in high school, where he captained the cross-country team and produced videos that helped him win a scholarship to study film arts at the University of Miami. There, he joined a campus club called Random Acts of Kindness. “It was a big turning point,” says Joseph, who became club president in his senior year. “We offered free hugs and high fives on campus. In junior year, I started wearing paper signs with a message like, ‘Being Kind Changes Lives.’ I wore one every day for four years.” In 2009, he enlisted friends and started a new nonprofit, U R Awesome, Inc., to sponsor food and clothing drives, benefit 5K runs and other events. In 2012 he led the U R Awesome World Kindness Tour on a donated Genuine Scooter, visiting, speaking and performing kind acts in 22 states, two countries and the Oregon Country Fair. Two months later, he moved to Eugene. He offers U R Awesome Kindness Coaching services to some local schools for free and raises funds on Indiegogo. Learn more at urawesome.org. In the photo, Joseph and co-penguin Katie Dunn pause after a free-hugs outing at the UO.