Christopher Brannigan, otherwise known as the Barefoot Soldier, has completed his 700-mile journey from Land’s End to Edinburgh – without the aid of any footwear.
The Army Major set out on Monday 6 July with the hope that his gruelling trek could raise the £400,000 necessary to fund innovative research and development that will enable a ground-breaking gene therapy treatment for his daughter, Hasti.
Hasti, who is eight years old, suffers from the rare genetic condition Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) which, like 95% of all rare diseases, currently has no treatment or cure.
Speaking on the fundraiser’s Just Giving page, Mr Brannigan stated that he is doing the challenge ‘to raise the funds needed to create a gene therapy treatment to change her fate and to give her the future she deserves.’
The journey took the Barefoot Soldier from the tip of Cornwall, to Number Ten Downing Street, and eventually onto the Edinburgh Castle. In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, the Northern Irish father spoke of the difficulties of his mission:
“The journey’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Walking barefoot on our roads over 20 miles a day and carrying 25kg of kit has been like walking on glass.”
He then continued, “I think what’s struck me during the whole thing is that I could stop at any time, but Hasti can’t stop being sick.”
The support and momentum gathered for both Christopher and Hasti Brannigan has been immense, with the current total raised totalling £364,000 plus an additional £70,000 from Gift Aid.
However, with funds for the umbrella charity, Hope for Hasti, standing at a total of over £700,000, Mr Brannigan has set even more ambitious goal of £2.5 million that, if achieved, would create an extraordinary difference to the lives of many children who are currently fighting rare diseases.
The journey made by the Barefoot Soldier is a testament to the lengths a father will go for their daughter, while the remarkable reaction of communities up and down the country has provided deserved hope for Hasti and other children up and down the country in her position.