AN ARMY major is on a mission to walk from Land’s End to Edinburgh in a bid to fund research into his daughter’s rare genetic condition – but he will be doing it barefoot.
Major Chris Brannigan, who is based at Tidworth Garrison, set off on his 700 mile journey last week and has raised more than £56,000 on a JustGiving page.
His eight-year-old daughter Hasti was diagnosed with the disorder Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) in 2018, which currently has no cure or treatment.
The 40-year-old is hoping to raise funds to create a gene therapy treatment to “change her fate and to give her the future she deserves”.
“It’s all I want to achieve with my life to be honest. I think any parent would say when you have got a little boy or girl and they are not well all you want for them is to be healthy and happy and to be able to achieve even their most modest dream. That just won’t happen for Hasti unless we can create a gene therapy.
“There are four dozen times a day where I sit down and think I can’t even take another step, never mind go another mile, then I think about Hasti and what she’s missing out on, and stand up and march on.”
Chris started his walk on July 6 in Cornwall and expects to complete his journey on August 9.
As well as doing the challenge barefoot, Chris will also be carrying 25kgs of kit on his back, including a one-man tent.
He said: “It is at the same time the best thing and worst thing I’ve ever done in my life. It is physically and emotionally draining.”
On his reason for choosing this challenge and to do it barefoot, he said: “We had to do something that would grab people’s attention and hopefully hold it.”
In March, he set up CdLS Hope for Hasti, a charity aiming to fund the research and development of a ground breaking gene therapy treatment for children suffering from the disease. The total cost of this is £400,000.
Chris’ Justgiving page says: “We are running out of time to raise the money as mental decline will start at puberty, and that is not far away for Hasti.”
On Tuesday evening when the Journal spoke to Chris, he had completed just over 200 miles of his journey and was heading to Warminster today.
“There have been so many times where I’ve literally just been sat on the side of the road feeling sorry for myself and someone pulls up beside me and says ‘I know you, you’re Chris Brannigan. You’re doing that barefoot thing’. They talk to me and that reminds me what I’m doing and why it’s important. The people have pulled me through,” added Chris, who says he has been blown away by the support he has received.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and would have never volunteered to do anything unless the need was so great,”
“People have been really incredible.There is something very basic about a dad doing everything he can to help his little girl. I think people have just been touched and inspired by it.”
To make a donation click here.
For more information about the charity go to hopeforhasti.org