Teen treks 40 miles carrying brother with cerebral palsy

Teen treks 40 miles carrying brother with cerebral palsy

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WJBK) - A Michigan teenager and his little brother are celebrating after an incredible journey. Sunday, they completed a 40 mile, two day trek from Bedford Junior High near the Toledo border to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Click on the video player to watch Robin Schwartz's report.
 
The cheers and screams intensified as Hunter Gandee, 14, of Temperance trudged on closer to the finish line carrying his 50 pound little brother Braden who has cerebral palsy.  A large crowd marched along with them and supporters clapped and shouted from the sidelines. Then, there was a big cheer as Hunter lifted Braden up to touch a banner bringing the journey to a thrilling end.

"All the support was just amazing," Hunter told Fox 2. "It really helped push us through. When times were difficult, we had people there help picking us up and encouraging us to walk on.  It was really cool."

Hunter, a 155 pound wrestler, came up with the idea to raise awareness about CP, a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement and motor skills, after his mother had a dream about him walking carrying his brother on his back. It was an intense trip through heat, rain and some rough conditions.

"It's kinda crazy because it doesn't surprise me that he would push himself to do something like this," said the boys' father, Sam Gandee. "It's still amazing to me every minute of this but that's how his mind works. [Hunter] wants to do big things, he wants to do things that help people, he's always been a very compassionate kid."

The boys took some breaks along the way to eat and to rest. At one point, they considered stopping because of chaffing on Braden's legs. But the brothers pressed on finding strength in one another.

"How proud are you of your brother," Braden was asked. "I'm very proud of him," he answered.

"I can't even describe to you how special [Braden] is to me," Hunter said. "I can't put it into words. He's awesome. He's always there for me. I really just wanted to give back to him in some way."

Following the remarkable act of brotherly love, the boys soaked in the moment. One mom held a sign that read, "Braden and Hunter you are my super heroes!" An eighth grader and his seven year old little brother proving strength, passion and inspiration can come from anyone at any age. You just have to make the effort.

"I think it was a little crazy at first," Braden said. "A little crazier now that we did it? Yeah. Maybe...," added his smiling mom.

Hunter says his dream is to someday attend the University of Michigan and study bioengineering.
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