14-year old raises money and awareness for cerebral palsy

cerebral palsy

Hunter Gandee refuses to let his brother, who has cerebral palsy, miss out on anything – even if it means carrying him to the top of a mountain.

Fourteen-year-old Hunter Gandee is headed to the Michigan Youth Wrestling Association State Championships on Friday, but that’s not the most remarkable thing this driven eighth grader has done this week. Hunter spearheaded an effort with his Bedford Junior High School Student Council to raise money and awareness for cerebral palsy.

Hunter’s 7-year-old brother, Braden, is his inspiration. “Braden has cerebral palsy. He’s just a wonderful kid,” says Hunter. “He’s always energetic and positive. He’s a great person to be around. He puts everyone around him in a better mood. He loves to wrestle, play outside, hang out with his friends and play video games.”

Hunter and his fellow Student Council members sold green wristbands that said “CP Awareness” on them. Together, they raised nearly $200 and more importantly, they raised awareness about CP. The money will be donated to the University of Michigan Cerebral Palsy Research Program.

“It’s contributors like Hunter and his friends that really make a difference,” says Jacqueline Kaufman, MD, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Psychology/Neuropsychology.  “Although CP is a common condition, limited research dollars are available to help explore new therapies, interventions and cerebral palsypreventions. We are honored to have Hunter and his friends support these important efforts and appreciate his leadership in our research community.”

“Braden’s a great kid and I wanted to do something to help. I go to most of his appointments with him in the summer when I’m not in school. I like to get out there and help and do whatever I can to make sure he gets the most out of his therapy time,” says Hunter.

Participating and watching those therapy sessions inspired Hunter’s career goals as well. “One time he was on a treadmill in a robotic-assisted therapy suit that helped him walk. That made me think how great it would be to build him what we call an Iron Man suit to help him walk,” recalls Hunter.

Braden now gets around with the help of a walker or a power chair. Hunter hopes to attend the University of Michigan and study bioengineering and neuroscience to help make that Iron Man suit a reality. At the top of his class and a natural in math and science, those goals seem within reach.

cerebral palsy researchTake the next step:

best children's hospitalUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.