A Michigan teen trekked 40 miles with his 7-year-old brother on his back to raise awareness of cerebral palsy, the cerebellar degenerative disorder that prevents his sibling from walking himself.
Hunter Gandee, 14, braved blustery conditions during the two-day hike from his hometown of Temperance, Mich., to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His brother Braden has struggled with cerebral palsy his entire life. Hunter told ABC that although he wrestles in 100-degree conditions at Bedford Junior High, “it’s nowhere near how hard Braden works.”
The teenager originally concocted the idea after raising $350 in green wristbands for cerebral palsy awareness month at his school. Afterward he wanted his efforts to reach beyond his classmates. “We want kids to understand Braden,” Hunter told MLive.
He was further inspired by a dream that his mother had of him carrying Braden to Mackinac, Mich., where the family had often vacationed. This led to two months of preparation for carrying his 50-lb. brother on his back.
The courageous duo were joined by other family members for the final portion of the journey, which nearly ended early because Braden’s legs were badly chafing. But after a brief rest-stop and repositioning Braden, the brothers completed the mission in 30 hours.
“We pushed through it,” an exhausted Hunter told ABC. “And we’re here.”
On the walk’s Facebook page, the Gandees express hope that the walk will earn the attention of engineers and doctors for “the need for innovative ideas in mobility aids and medical procedures.”