Hunter Gandee, a heroic 15-year-old boy from Michigan, just completed a three-day long, 57-mile trek with his young brother Braden to raise awareness about cerebral palsy.
As Braden himself suffers from cerebral palsy and is unable to walk without assistance, Hunter carried him on his back in a special harness through the entirety of their journey.
The strenuous walk was a part of a campaign called Cerebral Palsy Swagger where Hunter and his entire family wanted to highlight the debilitating disease and provide help to those who need it the most.
Intended to raise awareness rather than collecting donations, the walk began in Lambertville, located on the border with Ohio, and ended at University of Michigan's Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Ann Arbor.
The siblings were received at the finish line by members of Hunter's high school wrestling and football teams. World wrestling silver medalist and Ann Arbor resident Jake Herbert was also there to cheer the two on.
"We want to spread the story about what we're doing and what they can do for people who have cerebral palsy,” explained Hunter. “These are normal people and they are just trying to live their lives, too."
This walk marks the second long-distance march for the brothers. Last year, they walked 40-miles to Ann Arbor from their home in Temperance.
During the hike, Hunter Gandee and his family raised about $200,000 to build a handicap accessible playground at Braden’s school. The place will include rubber flooring and other accommodations to make it easier for Braden and kids like him to enjoy recess.
"Extremely proud of them as well as their sister Kerragan and little brother Kellen and even more so of their group of friends who have walked this entire journey to show support,” said boys’ mother Danielle Gandee. "Love these kids!"
An avid wrestler and baseball player at his Michigan high school, Hunter Gandee has already made a name for himself by winning a national award for his contributions to the community. He recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
As for 8-year-old Braden Gandee, he is currently preparing to undergo a surgery that may give him an increased range of motion.
“We have never done any type of surgeries for Braden,” explained his mother. “We have tried to stay away from them as long as possible. Botox injections have been the only thing we have done outside physical therapy, but his nerves are over-firing so much, and his body squeezes so much, it doesn’t let his muscles grow at the same rate of his bones. It could cause leg deformities, actually bowing of his legs if we don’t do anything.”