“I’m a little sore, and it’s all been kind of crazy, but I’m feeling pretty good,” Hunter Gandee says after completing an unbelievable journey. “We’ve definitely accomplished our goal. Actually, we’ve surpassed our goal.”
Hunter is 14 years old and just finished a 40-mile trek in two days, while carrying his 7-year-old brother Braden on his back to raise awareness of cerebral palsy. Braden was born with the muscular disorder, and Hunter sought a creative way to bring attention to the cause.
This past weekend, he spent a total of 21 hours on foot with Braden strapped behind him, piggyback style, marching across the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan and stopping only to eat and sleep until they crossed the finish line.
“There were times that, honestly, I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it,” Hunter tells Ellen’s Good News. “Other times, just seeing all the people we could help, and the people who were cheering us on. We didn’t really know the people who came out to support us; I had some friends, but most of them we didn’t know. And they took their own time to come out and help support us and I was really touched by that.”
Over the years, Hunter, an 8th-grader who plays multiple sports in school, says he’s learned a lot about cerebral palsy from his little brother, and wanted others to be more informed as to how it affects everyday life. He felt that by making a grand gesture he would be able to influence those in his community, but he had no idea his accomplishment would garner national media attention.
Hunter and Braden’s story has since been featured on NBC News, FOX & Friends, ESPN, USA Today, and the Washington Post, and will possibly be part of an upcoming sports special on CBS.
All it took was blood, sweat, tears and a few blisters… and mission accomplished!
“Our hardest stretch was the very end of the first day and the very beginning of the second day, just because that’s the middle,” Hunter recalls. "That’s when Braden’s chafing was getting worse from holding onto me. He started getting blisters on his legs. Physically, we were in the worst condition at the end, because we had 40 miles behind us, but with adrenaline and all the people in Ann Arbor, we looked past all that.”
Hunter aims to be a biomedical engineer who can make advancements that will help with cerebral palsy, and he hopes to inspire others to follow in his footsteps. With great minds come great ideas, and further, he wants to change the face of a disorder he feels is commonly misunderstood.
Hunter adds, “I want the littler kids to be able to understand cerebral palsy and be able to understand that Braden’s just like any other kid inside. He loves all the things they love to do, the only difference is his inability to walk… I’m hoping that by informing people, we can change the way we look at the world and realize that there are people out there who struggle to do things that a lot of us take for granted. I want to be able to help those people.”
To learn more about Hunter’s mission and support it, check out his official blog at cpswag.blog.com.