The Cerebral Palsy Swagger
As adults we often question our own abilities to make a difference in the lives of others, so when we see a child doing amazing things we tend to be pleasantly surprised and even more impressed.
With the Gandee brothers, that is rightfully so. The 2016 walk was the end of the third and longest pilgrimage for Hunter Gandee,16 and brother Braden Gandee, 9 , who has cerebral palsy. Hunter was just 14 when he carried his brother 40 miles in 2014. Then again, last year carried him another 57 miles.
The “Cerebral Palsy Swagger” walk had the boys set out for an 111-mile venture from Monroe County Michigan to the state’s Capitol in Lansing, to encourage people to take steps towards inclusion while at the same time supporting all disabilities.
Every three or four miles, the boys would stop and rest and at night they would get in their family’s RV and stay in a hotel. “At certain points, there were 200 people with us. We tried to have fun and take our mind off walking. It was always nice to see Braden get really excited when one of his friends would show up too.” Hunter said.
Hunter has served an important role not only in his brother’s life but in the community as well. “I sometimes think we’re extra close because as his older brother, I want to be there for him when he needs me and he needs me a little extra, so I’m happy to do it.”
Their greatest triumph, however, rested in the last half-mile of the walk. With friends and family surrounding him, Braden Gandee walked the last half mile, with his walker and was greeted at the Capitol by Lt. Governor Brian Calley along with an extensive crowd.
“It was hard and seemed like 100 miles, but it felt good after to know I did it,” Braden told TODAY.
Hunter had been training since December and said: “it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done or will ever have to do in my life, but it was crazy and fun and I had my four best friends by my side the entire time, which helped ease the pain.” Hunter had been using a personal trainer and had been carrying a weighted backpack around school since December.
This last walk will likely be the Gandee brother’s last, Hunter said Braden is getting bigger and while he approaches his senior year of high school he will be more focused on his college preparation.