Hunter Gandee receives Sports Illustrated award

Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-15 18:21:52-05

Hunter Gandee carried his brother on his back for miles. Not once. But twice.

"I told him he was crazy for wanting to go further this time," 9-year-old Braden Gandee said of his brother's determination during last summer's 57-mile trek from their home in Temperance to Ann Arbor.

Hunter's two summer-time treks with Braden in tow, totaled nearly a hundred miles. His effort went viral, generating national awareness for the Cerebral Palsy Braden lives with.

Hunter was selected for national recognition for his expression of love for his younger brother.

"I am the first Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Year and I'm extremely excited," Hunter said. "I'm extremely blessed."

Tennis star Serena Williams graces the magazine's cover as Sportsperson of the Year. Hunter's remarkable story will be featured inside.

Gandee is a sophomore at Bedford High School and a member of the school's wrestling team - so he's used to hard work and determination. 

As word of the walks spread the past summers, donations followed. $200,000 was raised in all.

The money went toward the construction of a handicap-accessible playground at Braden's school, Douglas Road Elementary. Now all the students in the school can all play together at recess.  

Hunter said it's an example of the power of coming together for a cause.

"A lot of people see it all as what I built, but it wasn't just me building it," he said. "There were so many people. So many volunteers came out and built it, so many people raised the funds. I may get the credit but it was a community effort."