Soldier marches 1,200 miles barefoot through Richmond for daughter with rare syndrome


ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) – A British Afghanistan War veteran is walking 1,200 miles for his daughter with a rare genetic syndrome — and he’s doing it barefoot.

Chris Brannigan left Maine on August 31 for a two-month-long journey along the east coast. On Tuesday, sister station 8News caught up with him as he marched from Ashland to Richmond.

“I’ve been walking for 39 days now, and I’ve covered about 800 miles,” he said. “I’ve stepped on everything imaginable.”

The painful journey is all for his 9-year-old daughter Hasti, who lives in the UK with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CDLS), a rare genetic condition.

“Hasti’s condition makes life really hard for her, so it felt like I had to do a challenge that was equally painful, difficult,” he said.

Brannigan said it’s impeding her growth, ability to learn and giving her seizures.

“Most children with CDLS never go on to be independent adults,” he said.

Right now, there’s no treatment. With each step forward, money raised is funding research underway at the Maine-based Jackson Laboratory.

Scientists there are working to develop a gene therapy that could help his daughter and others with CDLS.

“Hasti tells me that I’m off getting her new medicine. That’s how she understands it,” the father said. She’s a small girl with big dreams. “She loves to cook. She wants to be a chef when she grows up, but the truth is unless she has a treatment she’ll never achieve that.”

Brannigan will reach the finish line in North Carolina at the end of this month.

“We really want her to achieve her dreams and that’s why I’m on this journey,” he said.

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