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Teen Walks 40 Miles with Brother on his Back to Raise Awareness of Cerebral Palsy

A teenager from Michigan, USA was so passionate about raising awareness about cerebral palsy that he battled with heat, rain, and fatigue on a 40-mile journey with his younger brother strapped to his back.

Hunter Gandee, 14, carried his 7-year-old brother Braden Bedford Jr. on the remarkable trek in order to give a face to the disease that has affected his brother since birth.

Braden was born at 32 weeks with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) a type of brain injury that is thought to result in cerebral palsy in 60-100% of cases.

His mother revealed that the doctors knew that he had the condition straight away, which allowed the family to get Braden into therapy as soon as possible, although he still relies on a walker, braces or a power chair to get around.

14-year-old Hunter planned the walk, dubbed the “Cerebral Palsy Swagger,” to grab the attention of scientists, researchers and doctors in the hope that it would inspire them to develop new procedures and mobility aides for those dealing with cerebral palsy.

He said: “ We want to inform the up-and-coming engineers and therapists, people that will have a hand in making the equipment, so that they know the struggles that are out there,” “(Braden’s) walker goes well along flat surfaces, but he has trouble going over mulch at school, at the playground. We want better equipment developed, more adaptive equipment and better medical practices.”

The teenager set off with his brother securely strapped to his back on Saturday morning and crossed the finishing line around 30 hours and 40 miles later.

Hunter said he prepared for the journey by lifting weights and staying fit and healthy, but nothing could have prepared him for the conditions he faced, and he even said that he considered giving up along the way.

“Honestly, yes, there was a point that we did consider stopping,” Hunter said. “Braden’s legs — the chafing was getting pretty bad. We did have to consider stopping. It was at about the 30-mile point.”

When the boys reached the walk’s endpoint, Hunter lifted up Braden so he could touch a “Go Blue” banner made in their honour; a move that was met with thunderous applause and cheers from onlookers who had gathered to see the boys finish the trek.

Asked how he felt, Braden replied “more tired than I think I’ve ever been. My legs are pretty sore. But we pushed through it. And we’re here.”

For Hunter, the walk was about doing something special for his brother.

“I can’t even describe to you how special (Braden) is to me. I can’t put it into words,” “He’s awesome. He’s always there for me. I really just wanted to give back to him in some way.”

If cerebral palsy has affected a member of your family then you may be entitled to compensation. Find out how we can help here.

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