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Last year, Ryan Leander and Michael Wekall made international headlines when they decided to launch an online campaign with the sole objective of receiving a hug from Taylor Swift. Surprisingly, it worked. So how much harder can it be to get the attention of Justin Bieber?

“That’s how this whole project kind of launched off again, because it was in honor of about a year ago, when ‘A Hug from Taylor Swift’ started off,” said Leander, who called in to “The Ralphie Radio Show” to talk about the duo’s new project: The Bieber Experiment. “With Taylor Swift, not everyone likes her music. But after what she did with us, you can’t deny that she’s just an amazing person.”

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The 23 year-old hopes that with his new mission, he and Wekall will be able to bring that same likeability to “The Bieber” – specifically in regards to how people over the age of 16 view the pop star.

“Justin started following ‘AHugFromTaylorSwift’ on Twitter,” noted Leander, hopeful that the follow is a sign of more contact with Bieber. “We do have some contacts with one guy who I know, who then knows another guy who is apparently pretty high up.”

The college graduate wouldn’t elaborate – similar to last year when he wouldn’t divulge the name of the person within Swift’s camp that reached out to him. Leander can only hope that this time around, history once again repeats itself.

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Ryan Leander, one half of the team behind “AHugFromTaylorSwift.com” checks in to “The Ralphie Radio Show” after he and Michael Wekall accomplished their mission and received a hug from Taylor Swift. The singer surprised the boys in Auburn, Alabama.

Leander notes that video of the experience will be posted soon here.

It started with a random idea hatched during class to score attention for YouTube videos. It’s safe to say that 22 year-old friends Ryan Leander and Michael Wekall have accomplished that, and by the time their mission is complete, YouTube hits might not be the only thing they have to show for their work. Leander and Wekall created AHugFromTaylorSwift.com. The goal is just that – be hugged by singer Taylor Swift. Yes, Swift knows of the website, and is offering challenges to the students via her own YouTube account. After completing the first task of helping senior citizens across the street, the duo will premiere a video that incorporates the number 13 in to good deeds. Leander told me on “The Ralphie Radio Show” that they’ll upload the clip on April 13. Yes, 13 is Taylor’s lucky number.

“We never saw it getting this big,” remarked Leander, who called in to “The RRS” from Alabama. Wekall is a student at Auburn University, while Ryan takes on-line courses. “It’s definitely hard to concentrate with school and this going on and just like a whole other separate life that you have to keep going.”

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Visit AHugFromTaylorSwift.com.


Leander said that they keep in touch with a middle man who works with Taylor Swift, although he would not reveal the man’s identity or job title. It was this person that discovered Leander and Wekall on-line and alerted Swift. Apparently the songstress was flattered, and now the story is gaining national attention. Although their mission is now transforming in to a feel-good tale, Leander admits they were a little afraid of coming off as creepy.

“That was one of our major fears because I’m sure she gets a lot of that stuff,” said Leander. “We’re just two average guys, just wanting to have fun.”

But when will the fun come to a head, with a hug from Taylor? Leander has no idea.

“Your guess is as good as ours,” he replied. “Hopefully there won’t be too many (challenges), we’re both trying to graduate and get some jobs.”

In this day and age, that task might even be harder than scoring a hug from Grammy-award winning superstar. The students will surely find out soon enough.