Last weekend, 14-year-old Hunter Gandee carried his 7-year-old brother Braden on his back for 40 miles from their home in Temperance, Mich., to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Hoping to raise awareness about cerebral palsy, a muscular disease that affects his younger brother’s ability to walk unassisted, Hunter carried Braden in a specially made harness that was strapped to his back.
Hunter wanted to complete the walk, which he dubbed Cerebral Palsy Swagger, because the walker his brother uses does not do well on the mulch of Braden’s school’s playground. Hunter said he hoped the walk would raise awareness for cerebral palsy and inspire someone to invite a walker that would help Braden, and everyone with the disease, navigate rough terrain easier.
Despite blisters on Braden’s legs from the harness and the rainy weather they encountered on Sunday, the brothers reached their destination, and hopefully encouraged others to take a look at the disease.
And when they crossed onto the University of Michigan campus, Hunter held his brother up over his shoulders so Braden could touch a “Blue Supports You” banner hanging over head.
Earlier this week I attended the Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education meeting where I heard some seventh graders present their Kids Can Make a Difference project. The projects ranged from Partnering for Africa, which helps build schools in Uganda, to Big Dogs, Big Hearts, an organization that finds forever homes for rescued dogs.
These seventh graders raised money, volunteered their time and spent hours making phone calls for a school project that showed them they can make a difference no matter their age.
It was refreshing to hear about the Gandee brothers and listen to the S-GI seventh graders for so many reasons. For one thing, with so many negative things happening in our daily lives, it’s always nice to hear that good things still happen. It’s also worth mentioning that these kids didn’t do any of this for recognition or to get a pat on the back.
While, yes, the S-GI students did it as a school project, many of them said they’re planning on sending more money to their organizations or volunteering again. And Hunter was kind of hoping to get attention, but it was only to better the life of his younger brother.
These kids are all a product of Generation Y, also known as the “Me Generation,” due to their tendencies of narcissism and feelings of entitlement. I don’t see that anywhere in any of these kids. Hunter could have just sat at home and complained about how hard his life is because his younger brother has CP, but instead he put him on his back and walked 40 miles to make others aware. Those S-GI students could have done the bare minimum just to get a passing grade on their project, instead they went above what was asked of them and spent days helping others.
And maybe it’s worth giving a tip of the hat to their parents for raising them to put others before themselves but I think we should take a moment to see that kids can make a difference.
After all, Dr. Seuss did say “A person’s a person no matter how small.”