The Rockingham pastor walking to Washington, D.C. to weigh in on the future of healthcare is on track to arrive at the nation’s capital Monday.
He will have discarded at least one pair of shoes by the time he arrives.
Tuesday marks the 12th day on James Brigman’s journey of about 360 miles up U.S. 1. When he arrived in downtown Raleigh July 10, he told a crowd who greeted him that “(God) told me to go, so I went.”
As he walked through Ashland, Va. Tuesday morning, Brigman said he has received scores of support but also a few people opposed to his mission of raising awareness for people with disabilities.
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Brigman’s 9-year-old daughter, Lauren, was born with multiple health complications. She is unable to talk or walk.
In D.C., Brigman hopes to speak with lawmakers and get them to realize the impact health care cuts could have. He said he has an appointment with an aide to Sen. Thom Tillis and several others.
“I want to talk to the Senate, any and all of them, who are willing to speak to let these children be heard,” Brigman said. “This isn’t a matter of political party. This is a matter of loyalty to people in this country. It’s humanity to look after each other can take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.”
Brigman doesn’t think the answer is scrapping the current Medicaid program and starting from scratch. He says it would take too long to form a new plan.
“If the program is broke like people are talking about, let’s sit down and sew up what’s broken and keep going,” he said. “You don’t buy a whole car if you get a flat tire.”
It appears a public group on Facebook supporting the pastor’s initiative will eclipse 4,000 members on Tuesday.
Brigman and 16-year-old Braydon Coggins, a member of his church who is shadowing the feat in a supply van, have also met a considerable amount of support along the way.
People have joined the walk, some serving as guides through their cities and towns. Some have paid for hotels or opened their homes to Brigman and Coggins each of the 11 nights of the journey.
He expected to have to sleep in the van most nights. “I didn’t expect people would reach out like they did, but they did,” he said.
Brigman considers himself an advocate rather than a protester.
“I’m a daddy speaking up for my daughter, and as a pastor I feel I need to speak out for everyone else’s child who could be affected by this,” he said. “Everybody deserves healthcare in this country. That’s what made our country great, is taking care of each other.
“I want them to sit down and open their minds up, their hearts up, get to know the families, get to know the children, get to know the people that these laws could affect.”