Hunter Gandee

Hunter Gandee’s Heroic Act: Boy Carries Disabled Brother 57 Miles For Awareness

Locals in Temperance, Michigan, have another reason to be proud of Hunter Gandee: the compassionate teenager is on another mission to help raise awareness for cerebral palsy. And just as before, Hunter, 15, is carrying his brother on his back with the goal of walking 57 miles — 17 miles longer than the first time, according to MLive on June 6.

Last year, in an “I am my brother’s keeper” moment, Hunter set out to do an unselfish act by walking 40 miles with Braden strapped securely to his back. The older Gandee brother was 14 then, and his kid sibling was seven.

Today, for the second annual “Cerebral Palsy Swagger,” the pair is out to take part in a walk with others who are like-minded and share common desires to help those who need it most. To date, Hunter and his family have helped raise $200,000, which will be used to build a playground in their community.

Last month, Hunter joined dozens of others in the nation’s capitol. Middle and high school students in all 50 states were selected as “The Prudential Spirit of Community Award” honorees. They were recognized for their contributions in non-profit agencies in the communities. Of the 50, only 10 were chosen as national honorees. Hunter was among them.

Gandee took part in last year’s walk with vigor and eagerness to help bring awareness to the condition his brother suffers from. As a competitive athlete — baseball and wrestling — Hunter wanted to up the ante to this year’s event by logging an additional 17 miles.

The first time around, Hunter suffered from mild cramping in his legs and back. However, he soldiered on. Since then, his brother has grown by four inches and gained about 10 more pounds.

Nonetheless, they are determined to finish the walk. Along the way, there will be medical professionals and volunteers available to address any health issues, and to make their journey comfortable.

Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder that affects the nerves and disrupts the signals between the brain and muscle tissue. As a consequence, a sufferer like Hunter Gandee’s brother experiences constriction in limbs which limits movement.

The 57-mile walk comes ahead of Braden’s preparation for surgery to offer him some comfort and improvement in his range motion. However, the operation doesn’t come without risk. The boys’ mom, Danielle Gandee, gets emotional when talking about her son’s procedure.

“We have never done any type of surgeries for Braden. 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.”

According to their mom, Hunter and Braden were on the first mile of their walk at the midday on Friday. The brothers are scheduled to complete the journey Sunday in Ann Harbor.

The walk began at Douglas Road Elementary School. It is scheduled to end at the University of Michigan Pediatric Rehabilitation Center. The route has been carefully mapped out to include stopovers in several cities. There, others will undoubtedly, be waiting to cheer them along. Congratulations to Braden and Hunter Gandee for their momentous effort.

[Photo via Facebook]

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