On March 15, 2014, Brittany Bramble-McNatt, 28, fatally overdosed on a mix of drugs that included heroin. Her brother, Brett Bramble, was devastated over the loss of his best friend and sister.
“She was always such a light, loved by so many,” Bramble, 31, tells PEOPLE. “She wanted to get better.”
In an effort to keep his beloved sister’s memory alive, Bramble became involved in raising money for organizations geared towards garnering awareness and lobbying for the availability of Naloxone (NARCAN), a drug that can counteract an overdose.
But still, he felt like he wasn’t doing enough. That’s when Bramble came up with the idea to walk across the country to raise awareness in honor of his sister.
Bramble, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, spent almost a year getting ready for his journey, learning about survival skills needed as well as researching the sheer number of opioid fatalities that continue to occur across the county.
According to the CDC, 47,055 people fatally overdosed on an opioid in 2014. And the numbers for 2015 are predicted to be higher. “That means each day, there are 129 families losing a loved one to this epidemic,” Brett says. “I want to help lower that number. That is what this walk is all about.”
Now, almost two years to the day after Brittany died, Brett and his dog Domino – a 2-year old lab mix – are about to embark on an 8-month adventure across the nation in order to spread awareness and educate anyone who will listen about the drug epidemic that continues to take lives each day. He plans to chronicle the journey on his website and Facebook page.
“Walk-wise I am ready” Brett tells PEOPLE. He and Domino have been taking long walks to build their endurance and his gear and supplies are packed up in the stroller (named Jenny) that he will be pushing through the country.
Brett is relying on the support and kindness of friends, families and strangers to help fund his walk across America through his GoFundMe page. He plans to travel from the Atlantic coast, starting at Cape Henlopen, Delaware, to the Pacific coast, finishing up at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. “I am essentially following U.S. 50. Just hopping on and off of it based on safety,” he says.
And as Brett crosses the country, the memory of his sister will keep him going.
“It’s a tough time for me. [Brittany] would have turned 30 on February 27,” he says. “I think about her every minute of every day.”