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Michigan teen embodies Zero Limits by walking 111 miles with brother on his back

Hunter was just 6 years old when his brother, Braden, was born with Cerebral Palsy. Even from this young age Hunter saw how much his little brother suffered and wanted nothing more than to help him be successful. Hunter went to Braden’s therapy sessions and helped him whenever he could. The bond shared by these brothers is so deep it is hard to fathom, and Hunter’s recent decision to carry Braden on his back for 111 miles is the ultimate example of just how deep this connection is. Their story is one of perseverance, patience, dedication and sacrifice, and is not unlike many of our own personal stories; balancing training, family and work, as we push to our limits every day.

By the time Hunter was in 8th grade he knew he wanted to do more to help Braden, so in March 2014 he sold wristbands to raise money for Cerebral Palsy research and inspired hundreds of students to get involved, and it made him wonder what else he could do to make a difference. One morning Hunter’s mother described a dream where he was carrying Braden on his back, but her dream soon became a reality. Shortly thereafter Hunter set out on their first long trek (40 miles) with Braden on his back. The next year Hunter carried Braden for 57 miles from, Lambertville, MI to Ann Arbor, MI. The outpouring of support surrounding these walks inspired Hunter to undertake their most difficult and last trip, covering 111 miles in 6 days. This would be their last ultra-distance walk because they recognize that they need to come up with a fresh idea.

The training Hunter went through for their 111 mile walk was very similar to what we go through as athletes. Hunter juggled his daily responsibilities at home and school throughout his 12 week training period and worked with a personal trainer. Just like an endurance runner, he focused on strength and core work, as well as building mileage and even came up with a nutrition plan for his trek. Hunter planned out rest stops and arranged for a support crew that would travel along with them in an RV.

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 (Photo Courtesy of Cerebral Palsy Swagger Project)

During the trek Hunter walked 3-4 miles with 30 minute breaks to rest, hydrate, and fuel. Just like any athlete Hunter fueled consistently eating a combination of granola bars, fruit and protein, and hydrated constantly. Hunter and Braden began and ended each day at a different high school where the support was overwhelming; Hunter knew that inspiring the youth would be the best way to make a difference. All the people who walked with Hunter and Braden helped pace them, not for a first place finish, but to give them the strength to press on no matter what, and to achieve something much larger than a PR or podium finish. Hunter completed these walks for something larger than himself: it was to help Braden and also to inspire the larger community to make a difference for people who suffer from Cerebral Palsy. Hunter and Braden’s story teaches us that with faith, patience and perseverance anything is possible.

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(Photo Courtesy of Cerebral Palsy Swagger Project)

In April 2016 Hunter set out with Braden on his back, to walk 111 miles from Temperance, MI to Lansing, MI, it took them 6 days. With this being their last trek, they wanted to make it special for Braden, so he walked the last half mile. Covering this half mile stretch on foot was one of the hardest things Braden ever did in his life, but he wanted to do it. Two hundred people came out to support Braden and he was overjoyed to be completing this journey on his own two feet knowing that he was blessed and making a difference.

Covering any distance on foot shows dedication to something bigger than oneself and a desire to go out and realize that there are Zero Limits to what we can accomplish. Hunter had never heard of Altra, but his determination to help his brother by walking ultra-length distances demonstrates that he already lives life with Zero Limits. Whether completing your first 5K, running the Western States Endurance Run, or carrying your 70lb brother on your back, we are all connected by the desire to push the limits of human nature. At Altra we strive not only to help people run better and injury free, but to inspire everyone to run. It all starts with that first step out the door, and if you ever doubt your abilities, be inspired by Hunter’s dedication to his brother and Braden’s determination to not only succeed, but to help others with Cerebral Palsy as well. Have faith and feel empowered; we all have Zero Limits!

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(Photo Courtesy of Cerebral Palsy Swagger Project)

More information on The Cerebral Palsy Swagger Project can be found at Facebook.com/cerebralpalsyswagger