In my last blog post, I wrote about the inspiring and heart-warming story of Hunter Gandee, a teen hero who has brought tons of attention and awareness to Cerebral Palsy, a disease that affects his younger brother, Braden Grandee.
On Monday, Sports Illustrated announced its annual list of accolades. Earning the first High School Athlete of the Year award was the 15-year-old high school sophomore, Hunter Gandee.
“What an honor! I’m truly blessed!” Hunter tweeted Monday afternoon.
Hunter was 14 and Braden was 7 when the brothers first walked 40 miles together to raise money for a handicap-accessible playground at Braden’s elementary school, as well as increased understanding of cerebral palsy — a brain injury that affects movement, posture and muscle coordination.
Throughout the entire June 2014 walk, Hunter carried his brother on his back. One year later, the duo was back at it — this time walking 57 miles. The second “Cerebral Palsy Swagger” event was a step up challenge-wise, but the goal was the same.
“One thing I wanted to show through this walk is the power of the youth in our society,” Hunter says. “We saw a problem, we had an idea to create a solution, and the only difference from us and a lot of other kids is that we went out and tried it.”
Since completing the walks, the brothers have received attention from national media organizations, hoping to share their story. Hunter has received countless awards for his strength and determination, including most recently the Sports Illustrated accolade.
Hunter’s story will be featured in the Sports Illustrated magazine issue that hits the stands Dec. 21. He has also been invited to an awards dinner in New York to honor the athletes featured in the magazine, including cover athlete and tennis legend Serena Williams.
Here is a 10 minute video I found that shows the beautiful relationship between these two brothers. Enjoy: