Usually parents are yelling at siblings to get off one another’s backs — not the other way around.
15-year-old Hunter Gandee was nothing but smiles as he crossed the finish line at the conclusion of his 57 mile trek across southern Michigan to raise awareness for cerebral palsy. With his 8-year-old brother, Braden, who suffers from the neurological disorder, strapped to his back, Hunter walked from Douglas Road Elementary School in Lambertville to the University of Michigan Pediatric Rehabilitation Center.
Dubbed the Cerebral Palsy Swagger by Hunter’s mom, the brothers were sent off with cheers from all 550 of Braden’s classmates and were accompanied by no less than 15 people at any given time throughout the three day walk. Supporters shouted encouragement along the way and they were escorted through towns by police and fire departments.
“We had never planned for it to be this big,” Hunter said to Fox Channel 8 in Cleveland. “At first, I just wanted to get my friends involved.”
This, the second “CP Swagger”, following last year’s 40 mile journey, comes after Hunter has helped raise over $130,000 for a playground at Braden’s school that is more accessible, with ramps and rubber flooring instead of mulch.
The Gandee brothers’ effort has gained national attention, making them popular on social media and spreading their story all over the country.
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) June 7, 2015
“We want to show people his struggles, what he has, what we can do to make it better,” Hunter said after crossing the finish line. “We want to show people what cerebral palsy is and that it’s not a disease, not an illness. It’s an injury to the brain that just affects his muscle coordination. And, you know, there’s so many things that we can do for him and for the others who have conditions like him.”
These last few days have been truly amazing!
— CerebralPalsySwagger (@The_CP_Swagger) June 8, 2015
A 15-year-old high schooler carried his 8-year-old brother for 57 miles.