Father walks barefoot through Philadelphia on 1,200 mile trip to raise awareness of daughter’s rare genetic disease

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PHILADELPHIA – A father crossed the Atlantic Ocean to walk barefoot 1,200 miles along the eastern seaboard of the United States. He does this to raise funds to help treat his daughter’s rare genetic condition.

About a month ago, Chris Brannigan began his journey in Maine and traveled to Philadelphia on Thursday.

He has nearly 500 miles to go until he reaches his destination of Jacksonville, North Carolina.

“I do the whole trip barefoot,” Brannigan said. “I don’t like to go barefoot. I’m not an athlete. I’m not some kind of endurance junkie, I just do it because it’s a way to get people to focus on this problem and hopefully help us raise the money we need. “

Currently serving in the British Army, Brannigan said his focus right now is to help children like his 9-year-old daughter, Hasti.

Hasti was born with a rare genetic condition called Cornelia de Lange syndrome, according to Brannigan.

“It affects Hasti’s growth. She’s not as tall as the other kids. It affects her cognition, so learning and speaking is difficult for her, and it causes seizures,” Brannigan said.

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Brannigan told our sister station WPVI that it will get worse in a few years without treatment.
“She’s a little kid with dreams who wants to grow up to be happy and healthy and the sad truth is that unless parents like me go out and do these crazy things, there is no money for rare disease treatments, ”Brannigan said.

Brannigan said he has already completed a grueling 700 mile walk in the UK. Since then, he has raised $ 1.2 million to reach a goal of $ 3.5 million, which he says is needed before clinical trials, research and gene therapy can begin.

“It’s really humbling to know that complete strangers in a foreign country want to help my little girl,” Brannigan said.

Right now, they still need to raise an additional $ 2.3 million to reach their goal.

Brannigan’s charity, Hope for Hasti, follows her journey on Facebook and also accepts donations on their website.

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