Michigan teenager Hunter Gandee didn't kick back and relax this weekend. Instead, he walked 57 miles carrying his brother, Braden, on his back to raise awareness of cerebral palsy, Michigan Live reported.
It was Gandee's second annual Cerebral Palsy Swagger walk, intended not to raise money but to inform people about the neurological disorder his brother has. The Gandees left Friday morning from Douglas Road Elementary School in Lambertville and walked to the University of Michigan's Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Ann Arbor. Supporters greeted Hunter, 15, and Braden, 8 -- in a harness -- with 57 gold and blue balloons, according to the event's Facebook page.
"It was exhausting but worth it," Danielle Gandee, the boys' mother, told Michigan Live. Hunter himself told the Associated Press he was "pretty sore" after the hike.
— AliFenwick (@AliFenwick) June 7, 2015
Hunter's first Swagger walk was 40 miles, but this year he increased the distance to talk to more people. The ultimate goal of the Swagger walk was to "get the attention of the leaders, innovators and engineers of tomorrow and show them the need for a truly accessible world," according to a flier advertising the event. They raised about $200,000 toward a special needs playground at Braden's school, Reuters reported.
More than 9,000 users followed Hunter's walk on Facebook where the family posted updates along the way about their blistered feet, hotel stays at night and overall determination. The local sheriff's and fire departments joined the group for short stretches, as did Hunter and Braden's friends. They wore superhero T-shirts for the duration of the walk.
Although the Swagger walk is over, the Gandees' quest is not. They set up a GoFundMe page for the school playground to be called the "CP Swagger Shipyard." TV host Montel Williams was among the donors who had raised $545 as of Sunday night to buy items like ramps for wheelchairs and rubber mats for the ground.