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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Hunter Gandee

Hunter Gandee

Michigan

Hunter Gandee, 15, of Temperance, Mich., a freshman at Bedford High School, carried his 8-year-old brother, who has cerebral palsy, on a 40-mile walk to increase awareness of the disease, and raised $115,000 to support research and build an all-inclusive playground at his brothers elementary school. Hunter said he had been looking for a way to let people know about the challenges of cerebral palsy because his brother needed better equipment, better medical practices, and better support from the world around him. But nothing came to mind until his mother told him she had a dream in which Hunter was carrying his younger brother. We decided to turn that idea into reality, said Hunter.

Hunter spent three months talking about his planned walk to the news media and to students at other schools. Then, on June 7, he put his brother, Braden, on his back at 8 a.m. in front of 250 supporters in his schools wrestling room and began walking. Every three hours they took a break, but the day was hot, and when Hunter stopped walking for the night, it was 11 p.m. The next morning, the boys pushed on and finally, to cheers and applause, arrived in the middle of the afternoon at their destination the University of Michigans Bahna Wresting Center. Both my brother and I were physically and emotionally exhausted, said Hunter. I was sore and stiff but I knew we had to make it. Although Hunter did not ask directly for donations, he linked his Facebook page to the Cerebral Palsy Research Consortium at the University of Michigan and attracted more than $15,000 in donations. Since then, over $100,000 has been donated to Bradens schools PTA by people who saw stories about Hunters walk. This money will be used to build an all-inclusive playground at Bradens school, said Hunter.