An Army major plans to march 1,200 miles barefoot across the US as part of a campaign to fund ground-breaking gene therapy treatment for his nine-year-old daughter.
Chris Brannigan, who is based at Upavon in Wiltshire, is taking on the challenge to help pay for clinical trials of a potential treatment for the developmental disorder Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) which his daughter, Hasti, has been diagnosed with.
Major Brannigan has walked 700 miles barefoot across the UK and raised £500,000 but plans to continue his fundraising in the US, where the treatment is being developed.
He will set off tomorrow (Tuesday 30th August) from Maine and head to North Carolina, visiting the laboratory developing the treatment and other sites linked to supporting children with CdLS.
He expects to be walking for 53 days to complete the 1,200 miles, covering up to 35 miles a day while carrying a 25kg kit bag, including his one-man tent.
The 41-year-old said the fundraising challenge was essential for the creation of the new treatment:
"We are hoping we will be able to move straight into clinical trials early next year but that is dependant on us having the funds necessary, and hence I am undertaking this fundraising challenge."
"It causes seizures, cognitive disability, learning disability, it has reduced Hasti's growth velocity which means she is required to take daily growth hormone supplements," he continued.
"It affects her speech and language, she didn't begin speaking until she was five so her ability to communicate is down. It means lots of things that other children find easy are quite difficult for Hasti, it's quite isolating."
"She has been helping me to get ready and pack my bags, and over the last three weeks we have been going for walks together, which has been really good to spend time together but I hope she will miss me as I will be away for a couple of months."
Major Brannigan said that the military community including at Upavon had been extremely supportive and helped raise much of the money so far.
You can find more information on the Hope For Hasti fundraising page.