Braden Gandee, 7, has trouble walking on his own. Good thing he's got an older brother to carry him -- and to fight for his future.
Fourteen-year-old Hunter Gandee does actually carry his younger brother, who has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. At other times, Braden typically walks with the assistance of a walker, according to Bedford Now.
The brotherly love between the Temperance, Mich. boys goes much further, however. Hunter took it upon himself to educate people in his own town and beyond about his brother's condition. And on June 7 and 8, he'll carry his brother nearly 40 miles from the wrestling room at Bedford Junior High in Temperance to the University of Michigan's Bahna Wrestling Center in Ann Arbor to demonstrate "the physical and mental challenges faced everyday by those affected by cerebral palsy."
Though the 40-mile walk may be difficult (and their parents will drive along the route with them) the elder Gandee brother, a wrestler, has had plenty of practice over the years.
But he's still training for the walk.
"I wrestle, I know what it is to work hard,” Gandee told WDIV-TV in March. “It’s nowhere near how hard he has to work every day."
Gandee has sold wristbands and shirts at school to raise awareness about cerebral palsy and has social media accounts that keep track of his efforts. According to the Toledo Blade, he's raised $350 for cerebral palsy research at the University of Michigan from selling the wristbands.
In lieu of donations, the Facebook page dedicated to Gandee's efforts asks that people support them by coming to the start or finish of the walk. If people do want to donate, they're directed to the University of Michigan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department's Cerebral Palsy Research Fund.
Gandee seems to want to improve the quality of life for everyone with cerebral palsy, as the Facebook page states:
The goal of this walk is to get the attention of our up and coming leaders, doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs and show them the face of Cerebral Palsy and the need for innovative ideas in mobility aides and medical procedures. We need modern equipment that doesn't look medical. We need walkers that can handle playground mulch, ball field gravel, sand at beaches and uneven grass at parks. We need mobility aides and classroom adaptations that work with then newest computer technology. We need handicap accessibility to truly mean accessible, accessible for all.
In the pictures the Gandees share, you can see just how close the brothers are, and how often Hunter gives Braden a helping hand.
According to Bedford Now, Braden was born with periventricular leukomalacia, a brain injury that can lead to cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood motor disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though Gandee hasn't yet completed his walk, he's getting recognition for the plan.
"You deserve the humanitarian award, Hunter," Sharon Tilley wrote on Gandee's Cerebral Palsy Swagger Facebook page. "Everyone should be a hero for someone at least once in a lifetime. You have made a great choice to be your brother's hero."