For over 30 years, Gigi of Westport was a well-known, beloved local institution.
Raised in Egypt, England and Switzerland, with an MBA from the London School of Economics, Gigi Sakr and her skincare and medical aesthetics business helped countless Westport women look better.
But she also helped raise the confidence of unemployed women desperate for work, and the self-esteem of acne-scarred teenagers. She had plenty of high-end clients, and volunteered her services for plenty more who could not pay.
Gigi was also one of the first female coaches with the Westport Soccer Association. In her spare time, she walked — a bandanna wrapped around her spiky blonde hair — anywhere near the water.
Five months ago, she closed Gigi of Westport. She’d been hospitalized with blood clots in her lungs, and an inflammation of her heart. At the same time, she was diagnosed with ALS — commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“I always felt like a 30-year-old,” Gigi says. “Now I feel like I’m 90.”
She cannot walk or use her hands. Breathing is difficult.
“You see yourself dying a slow death,” Gigi adds. “Nothing can be done. There’s no treatment.”
She spends her days taking care of herself. And doing what she can to help others.
On Saturday, October 15 (10 a.m., Sherwood Island State Park), the ALS Association will sponsor a walk. The goal is twofold: to raise funds for, and awareness of, the disease.
Despite the famous ice bucket challenge, too many people know too little about it.
She is organizing a group — “Team Gigi” — for the ALS Walk. Family members (including her daughter Gizelle Begler, who closed her very successful couture business to take care of Gigi), friends and former customers have all signed on.
Gigi will be at the walk. And not just to cheer everyone on.
She’ll participate too — in a wheelchair.
“I’m gonna do it!” she promises.
Her voice and body are weak. But her spirit is very, very strong.
(To sign up for Team Gigi — or make a contribution — click here.)