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On June 8th, 2014, fourteen-year-old Hunter Gandee and his seven-year-old brother Braden, trekked 40-miles to raise awareness about Cerebral Palsy. While that was certainly impressive, what was even more so is that the entire 'Cerebral Palsy Swagger', as the boys called it, was completed with Braden perched on his brother's back. And it is not because the younger boy is lazy, but because the muscular disorder has left him debilitated and unable to walk without help.
The epic journey began early on Saturday, June 7th, when the two boys accompanied by family and friends left from Bedford Junior High in Temperance, Michigan. It was not easy. In addition to carrying his 50lbs brother, Hunter also had to battle extreme heat, cold and rain along the way.
Despite all the hardships, the 155lbs teenager, who had prepared for this difficult walk by carrying his brother around, lifting weights and staying active, managed to complete an astounding 25 miles on the first day. Hunter says his biggest challenge came at the 30-mile mark when he was so fatigued that he would have probably given up, had it not been for his supporters who gave him the strength to continue. His perseverance paid off. After 30 hours of walking, at 2.pm on Sunday, the brothers made it to their final destination - University of Michigan's Bahna Wrestling Center, where they were greeted by hundreds of cheering fans.
Though Hunter's main reason for organizing the 'Cerebral Palsy Swagger' had been to raise awareness of this disorder that affects about 800,000 children and adults of all ages in the United States, and hopefully inspire new ideas for its cure, he also managed to raise thousands of dollars for research. While many consider Hunter to be a hero, he believes it's Braden who struggles with the effects of this incurable disease, that is more deserving of the title. The 14-year-old says the walk was his way of giving back to his young brother who is always there for him. As for Braden? He is proud of his older brother and hopes that one day, he will be as good a wrestler as Hunter is!