Richmond woman takes part in Hope for Hasti barefoot relay challenge

Catherine James.

A Richmond woman has signed up to be one of 125 volunteers taking part in a barefoot relay challenge for charity.

Catherine James, 23, put herself forward to complete the 102nd leg of the Hope for Hasti 700-mile barefoot relay challenge from Land’s End to Edinburgh.

The volunteers were inspired by Major Chris Brannigan, also known as the Barefoot Solider, who completed the route in 30 days over the summer.

Chris and his wife Hengameh have been fundraising for over a year for their daughter, Hasti, who was diagnosed with a debilitating and rare genetic condition, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), and for which there are currently no treatment

Catherine said: “I was inspired to take part in this challenge as my niece suffers from a rare genetic condition called Turner syndrome with affects one in 2,000 female babies born.

“I’ve been following Chris and Hasti since day one and this really hits home for me as I’m currently carrying a baby myself — luckily for us my first child was born healthy but I’d be distraught if my baby had a rare genetic condition and there was no cure or therapy to help.

She added: “I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received and to everyone who has donated.”

Major Brannigan has been raising funds for research into a potential gene therapy which can offer hope and significant improvement in the quality of life for those living with CdLS.

The Hope For Hasti charity was set up to raise money and to start the research and clinical trial into a gene therapy treatment for CdLS.

The 700 miles barefoot march by Major Chris Brannigan across UK raised a £500,000 but their final goal is £2.5million to fund a treatment.

The research phase has now commenced and is being conducted by The Jackson Laboratory, a world leader in mammalian genetics and human genomics research

The future for Hasti is uncertain unless a treatment is found, and it is a race against time to raise the funding needed.

Major Brannigan said: “The support we’ve received so far has been incredible, and we know can’t achieve the goal on our own – every penny is vital to raise the money needed to fund the research and, hopefully, a treatment for CdLs.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the volunteers for giving up their time and having such courage to face this challenge – it’s certainly not easy!

“They are doing this for my little girl and for other children like her; they are heroes.”

To donate to the Hope for Hasti appeal click here.