A 14-year-old Michigan teen is about to carry his seven-year old brother on a 40-mile walk to raise awareness for cerebral palsy. Hunter Grandee has been hoisting little brother Braden for years, carrying him to the beach and up and down mountains, through the grocery store and just around their neighborhood.
“Every day of Braden’s life has been so much harder than any single day of mine,” Hunter told TODAY.com. He added that watching his little brother struggle valiantly to do everyday tasks has been his inspiration.
Braden’s cerebral palsy makes it difficult for him to walk, and sometimes to speak. The first grader uses a walker and can’t always negotiate places with soft surfaces like sandy beaches and the mulch covering the school playground. CP includes several neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood, and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination.
The siblings have dubbed their upcoming walk “The Cerebral Palsy Swagger” and have gathered support through Facebook, Twitter, and their blog. They plan to set out on June 7 from the Bedford Junior High School in Temperance, Michigan, where Hunter is a student at the top of his 8th grade class and captain of the wrestling team. They’ll stop overnight in the town of Milan, and hope to arrive at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, early the next afternoon. Their parents will drive ahead of them, and a number of volunteers will accompany the brothers on their journey.
The boys hope their walk will raise awareness. “We’re trying to get people to know more about cerebral palsy,” Hunter said. “They don’t understand the work Braden has to go through for all the simple things in life you and I just do.”
Braden adds, “I want people to know that I’m just like everyone else, but I just have difficulty walking.”
Both brothers hope to someday study biomedical engineering so they can design mobility equipment. Their mom, Danielle Gandee, says she’s confident they’ll succeed at whatever they try. Just like his brother, Braden is an A student with lots of friends. And his parents say that they expect the same things from him as they expect from Hunter, sister Kerrigan, and youngest brother Kellen.