In a remarkable feat of strength — both inward and outward — a middle school wreslter will carry his 7-year-old brother 40 miles to the University of Michigan in order to raise awareness for cerebral palsy.
According to wonderful feature stories by both MLive.com and The Detroit Free Press, Hunter Gandee, 14, will carry his little brother Braden, who has cerebral palsy, from their hometown of Temperance, Mich., to the Ann Arbor campus with the aide of specially designed carrier strapped to his back.
The congenital condition prevents Braden from walking without assistance, so "we're hoping to inform the up-and-coming leaders and possible doctors and medical researchers who can possibly develop new and innovative ideas and technology that will assist mobility," Hunter told the Free Press.
Hunter developed a social media campaign, The Cerebral Palsy Swagger, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to chronicle his two-day trek. He's also enlisted the help of his parents, 13-year-old sister Kerragan and their 6-year-old brother Kellen. They all plan to walk alongside Hunter and Braden as they depart Saturday's 8 a.m. prep rally at Bedford Junior High, kicking off the event.
"We get letters and pictures of kids thanking us for bringing awareness to the world for showing what cerebral palsy is, and making connections for everybody," Hunter's mother, Danielle Gandee, told MLive.com. "It's just huge. It makes me proud of Hunter."
Braden and Hunter developed a bond over wrestling. Watching from his front row seat at every meet, the former keeps the latter's statistics, living vicariously through his older brother's success.
"I never thought I would wrestle," Hunter told MLive.com. "I thought for sure I was going to play basketball in high school. The reason that I'm wrestling is (Braden). He loves the sport, and goes crazy just cheering everyone on."
Fittingly, the journey will end at Michigan's Bahna Wrestling Center, where Wolverines coach Joe McFarland and several of his wrestlers are scheduled to welcome them on Sunday afternoon. You can follow their inspiring journey on Kerragan Gandee's blog, Cerebral Palsy Swag.