— -- Fifty-seven miles would be tough to walk, and even tougher with your brother on your back.
Hunter Gandee, 15, is sore and tired after carrying his 8-year-old brother, Braden, for 57 miles in Michigan to raise awareness for cerebral palsy, he told ABC News today.
Hunter’s trek began Friday and he finally crossed the finish line Sunday afternoon. He began walking from Braden’s elementary school in Lambertville, Michigan, and ended 57-miles later at the University of Michigan’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Ann Arbor.
“I wanted to show people the struggles that Braden has to go through daily. I wanted to go out and show people we can make the world a better place for people with cerebral palsy,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Hunter has carried Braden around. He said he normally will carry Braden, who has the congenital disorder, into places like grocery stores, saying it’s more convenient than Braden’s walker. Last June, Hunter completed his first long trek.
“We had such a great success last summer when I carried Braden 40 miles that I wanted to try it again and make it even further,” he said.
Hunter and Braden had rest stops set up every 3 miles, where physical therapists would check on the duo and stretch out their tight muscles. Hunter said he rotated between three different harnesses that helped disperse Braden’s 60-pound body. While the harness helped with the physical discomfort, Hunter said the encouragement helped even more.
“If it weren’t for everyone cheering and walking with us, I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” he said. “I collapsed at the end of the second day because I was so tired. My legs were so sore but my friends picked me up and I made it through the third day.”
Hunter had no less than 15 people walking with him through the three days. Hunter credits his mom with coming up with the idea for Cerebral Palsy Swagger – the name of the walk – in March 2014.
“She had a dream that I was carrying Braden to raise awareness and that’s just what I did three months later,” the high school freshman said.
Since last year’s 40-mile walk, Hunter helped raise around $130,000 for a new playground at Douglas Road Elementary School – where Braden attends – that has ramps accessible to Braden’s walker and rubber flooring instead of mulch.
“There’s so much more to be done for people with cerebral palsy,” he said. “The walk was long and hard, but worth it.”