14-year-old carries brother for Cerebral Palsy Awareness


Image from msn.foxsports.com

Image from msn.foxsports.com

What makes someone a good brother? Hunter Gandee walked 40 miles with his brother, Braden, on his back in order to raise awareness for his brother’s disability, cerebral palsy, the first weekend in June.

“Raising awareness is the best way to help people with disabilities,” Gandee told Candor News, “because the more  people know about the disability, the greater the chance of finding new ways to help people[with the disability.]”

Cerebral palsy is a group of neuromuscular disorders that affects about 500,000 Americans, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Braden’s case requires him to use a walker, or a power wheelchair for long distances.

Gandee’s first awareness campaign for his brother’s disability was when he sold wristbands at his junior high school during March,  which was Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month.

After selling wristbands, Gandee started brainstorming more ideas to raise awareness. He said the walk was inspired by a dream his mother had. The dream was Hunter walking  with his brother on his back from his hometown of Temperance, Michigan to Mackinaw City, Michigan, a distance that would have taken the Gandees about two weeks to walk. Gandee said that his family did not have time to walk that far this summer, and they had connections to the University of  Michigan, so they decided to walk to Ann Arbor instead. Gandee said that he did a lot to prepare for the walk physically and emotionally.

“I was lifting weights at my high school, and I was just trying to carry him around as much and as often as I could, just direct training,” he said, “We got different sling [carriers] we could use during the walk together. We tried to tell many people about it so they could come out and support us and cheer us on.”

Gandee said that he never walked with less than ten people. Members of his family took turns walking with him and riding alongside in an RV, four of his friends walked with him the whole way, and supporters from different towns walked with him part of the way as well. There were about 100 to 200 people in the beginning and end of the walk, not including the human tunnels.

Gandee said that emotional motivation played as big of a role as the physical motivation. Braden had a lot of chaffing problems about 30 miles into the walk when one of Hunter’s friends called from church to pray with the Gandees.  The friend’s church, and Braden’s physical therapist’s church prayed for them, and many other supporters who found out on social media that they were having trouble prayed for them as well. He said that Braden’s therapist at church and a few other specialists were able to come up with an idea over the phone on how to fix Braden’s problems, so the Gandees decided to combine two of Braden’s carriers.

“I really think that’s what helped us make it through,” Gandee said.

The Cerebral Palsy Swagger Facebook page, which was created to bring awareness to the campaign, said the mission is to “get the attention of our up-and-coming leaders, doctors, entrepreneurs and show them the face of cerebral palsy and the need for innovative ideas in mobility aids and medical procedures.” Gandee said he plans on going to University of Michigan to major in Biomedical Engineering so that he can help people like Braden learn how to walk.

Gandee said that not only does he want to inspire people to help people with disabilities, but he also wants to educate children Braden’s age about his disability.

“Braden’s just another kid,” he said, “maybe his legs work a little differently, but he’s still just a kid.”

Now that the walk is over, the Gandees’ next project is to raise money for a handicap accessible playground for Braden’s school.

“Right now it’s got steps and mulch and  things that are restricting,” Gandee said, “He’s already got a disability, and we don’t want anything else holding him back.”

He said that he doesn’t plan on stopping the awareness campaign there.

“We’re definitely going to continue doing things to raise awareness,” he said,” We don’t know what, we’re still brainstorming ideas.”

 

 

 

 

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