These kinds of stories are the best types of stories. Fourteen-year-old Hunter Gandee, from Michigan, walked a total of 40 miles from his high school (which is right near the Michigan/Ohio boundary) to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, all while carrying his seven-year-old brother Braden on his back. Why would a teenager randomly walk for 40 miles, while carrying his brother no less? Well, there was nothing random about it – Hunter walked and carried Braden those 40 to raise awareness about cerebral palsy, which Braden suffers from.
Throughout their 40 mile, two day hike, Hunter and Braden endured heat, rain, and fatigue. Hunter even stated that they almost had to stop the walk after going about 30 miles because of chaffing on Braden’s legs. Fortunately, however, on Sunday, the two brothers completed their goal, as Hunter walked up the winding road toward the University of Michigan’s wrestling center. When asked how he felt after such a long journey, Braden simply said, “Tired.”
Hunter and Braden’s walk is being called the Cerebral Palsy Swagger, and the goal of the pair’s trek together was to raise awareness for the muscle disorder that affects Braden and to really put a face to cerebral palsy. I think it’s safe to say that the brothers were successful.
I don’t want to speak for everyone who has to deal with a disease or disability, but having worked with individuals who have had either or both, I’m sure that it’s inspiring for them to see what Braden has accomplished by going on this walk with his brother. And just as important, for people like me and others who might not personally deal with a disability or disorder ourselves on a day-to-day basis, Hunter’s compassion for his brother and his determination to help him are definitely qualities to admire and embrace in our everyday lives as well.
Hunter and Braden are both still kids, but through this 40 mile walk, they’ve shown more strength and fortitude than most adults and, together, have truly made a difference.
Photo via Detroit Free Press