Grant Thornton names Free Mom Hugs as its new Purple Paladin


Nonprofit strives to create allies who support the LGBTQIA+ community


CHICAGO — Grant Thornton LLP, one of America’s largest accounting, tax and advisory firms, has named Free Mom Hugs to its Purple Paladin program, which helps emerging nonprofit organizations move from “start-up to unstoppable.” As part of the program, Grant Thornton provides funding, business advice and volunteer support, while also helping nonprofits raise awareness of their work and mission.

With chapters in all 50 states and initiatives across the globe, Free Mom Hugs is on a mission to create allies who support the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility, education and conversation.

In addition to a library of resources, the organization provides opportunities to demonstrate allyship by participating in local events around the country such as pride parades, holiday gatherings and advocacy activities.

Further, Grant Thornton is currently helping Free Mom Hugs develop an ‘allyship hub’ on its website, providing resources so people can become better allies to the LGBTQIA+ community ― at home, work and school.

“Somewhere out there, someone needs us.”Sara Cunningham founded Free Mom Hugs after embarking on a long journey towards acceptance of her son, Parker, after he came out as gay. Her regret for the pain that it caused led her on a mission to ensure other children wouldn’t go through the suffering her son endured when she didn’t immediately accept him.

To show her support for Parker and others, Cunningham began by attending a pride parade wearing a homemade “Free Mom Hugs” button. She stood on the street with open arms and hugged individuals who weren’t accepted by their parents. Her first hug was with a young woman who said it had been four years since she’d been hugged by her mom. Devasted by this, Cunningham vowed to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community loudly and proudly.

“Somewhere out there, someone needs us,” said Cunningham. “We’re here to help people simply show up. And not just moms ― dads, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends ― anyone who is looking for a way to demonstrate their allyship and support the community. We provide those opportunities and are a loving presence that shows up where needed and when others don’t.”

Grant Thornton CEO Brad Preber echoes Cunningham’s sentiment: “Free Mom Hugs is an organization that is helping build a better world by changing lives, one hug at a time. At Grant Thornton, we share Free Mom Hugs’ vision for a more respectful, enriched community where all individuals are safe, loved and accepted. It’s simple: We all become stronger when all of our voices are heard.”

Grant Thornton named Free Mom Hugs to its Purple Paladin program in consultation with summer interns at the firm, who researched and proposed worthwhile organizations to support.

Grant Thornton accepts nominations of nonprofits for its Purple Paladin program at www.grantthornton/

To learn more about Free Mom Hugs, visit To donate, visit

Free Mom Hugs joins 11 other nonprofits that Grant Thornton previously selected as Purple Paladins: WeaveTales, Warrior Reunion Foundation, Go Team Therapy Dogs, Find Your Anchor, Foster Nation, Hope in a Box, Weird Enough Productions, Invisible Hands Deliver, Pal Experiences, Sneakers for Soldiers and Coming Up Rosies.

  • WeaveTales is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps refugees of all kinds share their stories via books, exhibits, films and other channels. To learn more, visit
  • Warrior Reunion Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that reconnects combat veterans and their families via life-changing reunion experiences. All events are provided at no cost to those who attend. To learn more, visit
  • Go Team Therapy Dogs is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that produces well-trained therapy dogs and places them at disaster sites, hospitals, and other places where they can offer comfort and care. To learn more, visit
  • Find Your Anchor is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on suicide prevention. To help people who are struggling to find hope, the organization creates and distributes boxes of curated items known as “anchors.” To learn more, visit
  • Foster Nation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps former foster youth overcome the challenges associated with ‘aging out’ of the foster-care system. To learn more, visit
  • Hope in a Box is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides educators with literature, detailed curriculums and coaching to improve classroom environments for LGBTQIA+ students. To learn more, visit
  • Weird Enough Productions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that develops free, interactive online content designed to combat media misrepresentations of minority communities. The organization is best known for its hallmark comic book series, “The UnCommons.” To learn more, visit
  • Invisible Hands Deliver is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that taps more than 12,000 volunteers to deliver groceries, prescriptions, and other necessities to people vulnerable to COVID-19 and facing hunger insecurity — including the elderly, disabled and immunocompromised. To learn more, visit
  • Pal Experiences is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps people with non-visible disabilities — such as autism — have more inclusive experiences at museums, entertainment venues and sporting events. To learn more, visit
  • Sneakers for Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides properly-fitted athletic shoes to deployed combat troops in all branches of the military. To learn more, visit
  • Coming Up Rosies is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides “smile kits” to hospitals so children — particularly those suffering from hair loss — can engage in therapeutic art activities to create custom head scarves, neck scarves and superhero capes based on their own unique designs. To learn more, visit

Grant Thornton’s Purple Paladins program derives its name from the word paladin, a champion of a cause. Grant Thornton and its professionals have donated more than $650,000 for Purple Paladin nonprofits, and more than 450 Grant Thornton professionals have volunteered support to the firm’s Purple Paladins.

To learn more about Purple Paladins, or to nominate a nonprofit for potential support, visit Grant Thornton’s website:



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