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Teen carrying brother reaches Michigan Capitol

Associated Press

Lansing — A 16-year-old boy and his disabled younger brother have completed a 111-mile walk in Michigan with the teen carrying his sibling for all but the last half-mile.

Hunter Gandee’s goal was to encourage the public to embrace anyone with a disability. His brother, Braden, 9, has cerebral palsy and can’t walk without assistance.

Surrounded by family, Braden walked the last half-mile — the third and longest journey — to the Michigan Capitol with a walker Monday. Hunter said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and others greeted them at the Capitol steps. He said the six-day walk from Monroe County was “amazing.”

“It’s hard to take just one moment,” Hunter said when asked to describe a highlight. “A lot of memories were created. To see Braden get to the steps of the Capitol building was just amazing.”

It wasn’t their first. Hunter was 14 in 2014 when he carried Braden for 40 miles. Last year, they made a 57-mile journey.

Hunter expects this will be his last such walk because he will be starting his senior year of high school in the fall and will be preparing for college.

“And Braden is getting bigger,” Hunter added in a telephone interview with the Associated Press last week.

They call the walk the “Cerebral Palsy Swagger,” and it challenges people worldwide to take steps toward inclusion.

“I’m extremely thankful for our support and that has inspired me to keep going,” Hunter said.

Two years ago, Hunter held Braden in his arms on the mound at Comerica Park as Braden tossed the ceremonial first pitch in Detroit’s Tigers game against the Colorado Rockies. He and others also raised money last year for an accessible playground at Braden’s school.

Hunter is a sophomore at Bedford High School in Temperance.