ANN ARBOR, Mich – A 14-year-old Michigan boy set out on a 40-mile trek Saturday with his seven-year-old brother strapped to his back. They hoped to raise awareness about the muscular condition that prevents the younger boy from being able to walk without help.
Hunter Gandee, with 50-pound Braden securely strapped to his back, to made it to the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Sunday.
The brothers left shortly after 8 a.m. from the parking lot of Bedford Junior High School in Temperance, which is near the Ohio border.
Surrounding the Gandees were dozens of family, friends and community members, many of whom released balloons into the sky as the walk commenced.
Called the Cerebral Palsy Swagger, the trek’s goal is to raise awareness for the muscle disorder that afflicts Braden and to grab the attention of the next generation of leaders, doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs and show them the face of cerebral palsy and the need for new ideas in mobility aides and medical procedures.
Even students from a rival middle school, Jefferson, raised $700.
The family is not asking for donations, but for those interested, they are being directed to the University of Michigan Cerebral Palsy Research Program. Hunter raised $350 for the program through the sale of green wristbands at his school in March.
Hunter, a 155-pound wrestler, said he trained by lifting weights and staying active. He predicted that the love and support he received at the rally and in the days and weeks preceding it will “push us through.”