Walk With Gigi For ALS Awareness

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 Sakr and her daughter, Gizelle Begler.

Gigi Sakr and her daughter, Gizelle Begler.

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.

Gigi Sakr in her native Egypt, a year ago.

Gigi Sakr in her native Egypt, a year ago.

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.)

5 responses to “Walk With Gigi For ALS Awareness

  1. My dad died of ALS back in 1982 and sadly they don’t know much more about what causes this awful disease now then they did back then. The Ice Bucket Challenge created awareness of the disease and raised money for research, but I felt many of the people doing it were doing it for the wrong reason. I know several people in my area were doing it to get attention for themselves, so they could make a funny video and post it on YouTube, they never even donated any money or really took the time to understand what it was about. They just saw an opportunity to show off.
    What somebody who actually has ALS goes through before they finally die is a life I would wish on nobody or their families. It is terrible to watch somebody you love slowly wither away and to feel helpless to be able to do anything to help them.
    The “Right To Try” bill is a good thing, at least it may help some people try new experimental drugs that could help. I hope there will be some kind of breakthrough soon with finding a cure for this so nobody else has to die this way.

    • Jill this law allowing people in your father’s circumstances to try experimental drugs JUST passed in CT. I don’t remember the name of it – but you can find it on the State’s legislative website. Faith Hope & Love…

  2. Gigi is one of the reasons why many of the Westport women look so beautiful. I encourage all of you to come out and show support for Gigi.

  3. Gigi is one of the most beautiful, intelligent and fascinating woman I have ever known! And, a heart of gold to boot.

  4. Bonnie Bradley

    What a beautiful and courageous woman Gigi is! It is an honor just to hear her story and to know of her wonderful career, her dedication to help women look, feel and be their best… and her brave spirit. In a day when women are still striving toward acceptance on their own terms, Gigi is a true hero.
    Even though I have never met her, I love Gigi as a sister.