Hunter Gandee: Sports Illustrated names local youth High School Athlete of the Year

Photo by Wargo/Getty Images for Sports Photographed at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Ceremony 2015 is U.S. Marine Captain Mike Gangamella, Hunter Gandee, High School Athlete of the Year with brother Braden and Managing Editor for Sports illustrated, Chris Stone.

Photo by Wargo/Getty Images for Sports
Photographed at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Ceremony 2015 is U.S. Marine Captain Mike Gangamella, Hunter Gandee, High School Athlete of the Year with brother Braden and Managing Editor for Sports illustrated, Chris Stone.

By Joyce Ervin

Hunter Gandee, a Bedford High School wrestler, shared the stage with his younger brother, Braden, at the Sports Illustrated Awards banquet held on December 15 in New York City, where he was honored with the publication’s 2015 High School Athlete of the Year Award.
He held his brother in his arms, while making his acceptance speech. Sports Illustrated said in a press release he was chosen as a result of his dedication to raising awareness for cerebral palsy and bettering the lives of those suffering from the neurological disorder.
No stranger to Milan, traveling twice through town carrying his brother on 40 and 57 mile treks and serving as the Milan 2014 Christmas Parade Marshals, the brothers brought awareness to Braden’s cerebral palsy.
Braden was born with periventricular leukomalacia, a brain injury that leads to cerebral palsy.  The disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the most common childhood motor disability.
Hunter carried his little brother years before deciding to make improvements for those suffering.  Through his new found efforts, he was instrumental in raising funds to have an inclusive playground built at Braden’s Douglas Road Elementary School in Lambertville. 
The playground consists of wheelchair-friendly rubber flooring and ramps built to enable his brother and others to enjoy recess and playtime.
Braden said of his brother, “He’s awesome, because no body’s first choice is put their brother on their back and walk 57 miles.”
Hunter rubbed elbows with some prominent people while in New York.  Also attending was tennis great, Serena Williams, named Sport’s Illustrated 2015 Sportsperson of the Year, golfer Jack Nicklaus and surprise guest, movie star, Will Smith.   
 The event was sponsored by Chase, Gatorade, Johnnie Walker, New York Life, Robert Graham and U.S. Marine Corps.
 For those that would like to support the boy’ cause, donations can be made to the University of Michigan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department’s Cerebral Palsy Research Fund. Visitwww.med.umich.edu/pmr/research/cprcom.htm
 Visit the boys’ blog at http://www.13abc.com/story/25554336/the-cerebral-palsy-swagger for details on how to follow their journey and  on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/cerebralpalsyswagger and Twitter athttps://twitter.com/The_CP_Swagger.
 
Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan.  She can be contacted at:  jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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