Teen wrestler finishes quest, carrying brother with cerebral palsy for 40 miles

Hunter Gandee, 14, walks in Saline, Mich., on Sunday with his 7-year-old brother, Braden.

Mike Householder/AP

A Michigan eighth-grader hoping to raise awareness for cerebral palsy has completed a 40-mile walk with his 7-year-old brother on his back, according to MLive.com.

Fourteen-year-old Hunter Gandee began his journey Saturday at the gymnasium at Bedford Junior High School, where Hunter is a wrestler, and walked the initial 25 miles. After stopping for the night in Milan, Hunter quite literally picked up where he left off and conquered the final 15 miles Sunday with his brother Braden aboard, finishing with a group of 100 followers at the University of Michigan’€s Bahna Wrestling Center.

The walk was inspired by a dream of the boys’€™ mother, Danielle Gandee. In it, she envisioned Hunter carrying Braden, who has cerebral palsy, from the family’€™s home in Temperance to Mackinac, MLive.com reports. Earlier this year, Hunter raised $350 selling green cerebral palsy awareness wristbands, and so the walk seemed like the logical next step.

"That’€™s just Hunter,"€ Danielle Gandee told MLive.com. "€œThis is what he wanted to do. I knew he’€™d do it, and I had faith in him the entire time. We were a little worried about Braden. He had some injuries and blistering and stuff like that from some of the equipment and just the heat and sweat, so we were worried we were going to have to push him in his stroller."

Hunter’€™s commitment to the goal never wavered, though, and eventually the team reached the UM campus in Ann Arbor, with the wrestling building being the most appropriate place for him and Braden to stop.

"Braden sits mat side at Hunter’s matches, and he keeps stats. He knows the tournament brackets when Hunter is in there,"€ the boys’€™ father, Sam Gandee, told the site. "€œHunter wanted to tie this (walk) in with Braden’€™s love of wrestling and do something hard, and really wrestling, the determination and strength and the (preparation) that comes with wrestling really helped this to happen. Without wrestling, this wouldn’€™t have happened.

"€œ… Proud isn’€™t even really a word I could use; it’€™s way beyond that," Sam Gandee added. "To me, it’€™s one of those things that can make a difference in the world, and at age 14 and at age 7, Hunter and Braden, they’ve reached so many people. It’€™s way more than I have done in my life."