At the 51st Annual Junior Olympic Games, more 15,000 athletes came to the Detroit Metropolitan Area to compete.
One of these athletes, wrestler Hunter Gandee, carries an extra weight on his shoulders that others do not. Hunter is a rising senior at Bedford High School in Temperance, MI where he is on the varsity wrestling team.
Gandee’s younger brother, Braden, suffers from Cerebral Palsy, a disorder that affects his muscle function, making him unable to walk unassisted.
"Growing up with him, I've seen some of the things he's had to go through, some of the things he's had difficulty with, walking being a huge one," Hunter said. He continued, "I wanted to find a way to be able to tell people about Cerebral Palsy and raise awareness for his condition."
This is where the idea for Hunter and his family’s idea of "The Cerebral Palsy Swagger" was born.
In June of 2014, Hunter carried his brother on his back, piggyback style, 40 miles from his junior high school to the University of Michigan wrestling center.
The next year he carried him again, this time 57 miles, from Braden's elementary school to the University of Michigan Pediatric Rehabilitation Center.
Then in April of 2016, Hunter carried Braden 111 miles over six days from his high school in Promenence to the State Capitol in Lansing. At certain points there were around 200 people walking with them.
Through their efforts and walks, they raised over $200,000 for a handicap accessible playground in their community and gained national media attention. Hunter and his family were recognized during a University of Michigan football game and threw out the first pitch of a Detroit Tigers game. Hunter was also named Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Year in 2015.
“Everything they do they do as a team,” said Hunter and Braden’s mom, Danielle, about her family.
Hunter was excited to have his family cheering him on and supporting him at the 2017 AAU Junior Olympic Games. “It’s always nice to you know have family and friends there cheering you on when you’re doing something that’s important to you,” said Hunter. He continued about the Games, “It was a great experience, especially facing kids from across the country with different styles that I don’t see from kids here in Michigan.”
He hopes his story inspires others to go out and try to make a difference in the world.
“If there’s one thing I want to tell people it’s that if they set their minds to something and you want to make a difference in the world, then anyone can,” said Hunter. “Anyone has the power, because I was 14 when I started this project with me and my 7 year old brother and we were able to make a huge impact on people’s lives. When you have an idea, go after it and try to make that difference.”
What Is Pickleball?
AAU Pickleball Serves First-Ever Event in Florida
The AAU Englewood Chill Blast Pickleball Tournament made history this weekend as the first-ever pickleball event hosted for AAU members. (What the heck is pickleball?!) More than 180 athletes from 11 states and Canada – ranging from age 19 to 75 – competed on Florida’s west coast as part of the Florida Pickleball League.
Best Bats to Use at AAU Baseball Nationals in 2018
Ask an Expert: AAU Alum Lauryn Williams (Part 2)
Remember When... Dwyane Wade Visited ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Back in 2010, before Wade and his buddy LeBron James joined forces in South Beach for the Heat, Wade joined Mickey Mouse and played a special 3-on-3 basketball game with athletes in town for the 16U AAU Girls Basketball National Championships at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.
18 AAU Events You Don't Want to Miss in 2018
Summertime is right around the corner and, with that, comes the bulk of AAU national championship season. The AAU is constantly adding new events and new competition opportunities for youth athletes and, in recent years, a larger focus has been placed on developing the whole event – not just organizing a tournament. Complete with social responsibility initiatives and unique family vacation opportunities, take a look at the 18 AAU events you are not going to want to miss in 2018.
Workout of the Month: Kneeling Exercises
Walk into a gym and you’ll notice a lot of the same thing: athletes standing, sitting, or lying on their backs while they are getting their bodies ready for 2018 AAU competition. Even though these get the job done, there is another position that can help strengthen your body and balance, giving you an edge on your competition: Kneeling.
Ask an Expert: AAU Alum Lauryn Williams (Part 3)
Jax Magic Tip-Off Classic
Texas Volleyball Tour's Junior Beach Series 2018
Missouri AAU State Tournament
2018 Arizona AAU Taekwondo State Qualifier Champio
2018 Girls Kutztown Winter Classic
Cap City Ballerz Super Regional Tournament
York County Blue Ribbon Brawl
2018 Dick Wilson FC & Novice Meet
SOVC February 24th 15-18U Tournament