A Father Is Walking 1,200 Miles Barefoot from Maine to North Carolina to Help Save His Child
Christopher Brannigan has one mission in mind: Raise $3 million to help children like his daughter get the gene therapy treatment they need for CdLS, a rare developmental disorder.
Brannigan, who is a British Army officer, is walking 1,200 miles barefoot from The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC, with the hopes of attracting attention to the topic of rare diseases in children and raising money so the lab can fund clinical trials for a treatment that has been developed.
Brannigan explained on Wednesday that his nine-year-old daughter, Hasti, has CdLS. For her, that means her growth is delayed and she is smaller than children her own age.
"Just playing in the playground can be difficult for her," Brannigan said.
Brannigan said Hasti's speech and language development is also delayed, which makes it difficult to interact in social situations.
"It's heartbreaking to watch because she, more than anything, just wants to keep a friend," Brannigan said.
Brannigan lives in West Byfleet, England, with his wife, Hengameh, and two sons. Recently, he kissed his daughter goodbye so he could embark on this journey across the pond.
Brannigan stopped at Jackson Lab in Bar Harbor, Maine, where he had an official send-off before hitting the road on Aug. 31.
Here is a map of the route Brannigan is taking:
Brannigan is raising money through his efforts.
As Brannigan was walking from Portland to Biddeford, Maine, on Wednesday, people were giving him donations.
People can recognize Brannigan immediately.
Brannigan is not only barefoot. The soldier who was deployed on two operational tours in Afghanistan is wearing his full Army kit and a sign.
Brannigan said walking 1,200 miles is a challenge, but it doesn't in any way replicate what Hasti has to go through on a daily basis.
"I thought it was very fitting for me to do something that for me, is very, very difficult," Brannigan said.
Brannigan has taken long treks barefoot before to raise money for CdLS treatments.
Last year, Brannigan walked 700 miles barefoot across the UK and raised £500,000 for the cause.
Brannigan said he won't stop fighting for Hasti and other children with rare diseases, especially since pharmaceutical companies don't see these conditions as being profitable to pursue.
"My daughter is not a line on a spreadsheet. She is a little girl that would like to accomplish her dreams someday," Brannigan said.
People can follow Brannigan's journey on Instagram and Facebook @HopeforHasti.
To learn more and donate online, click here.
Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.
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