In September of 2010, Gilles went to a dealership to purchase a bare-bones Audi station wagon, but something else at the dealership caught his eye: a brand new Porsche Panamera. Dark blue. Metallic paint. Cream interior. This machine was built for him. Gilles took the Panamera home and a year later he still loved driving that car.
Shortly thereafter, in March of 2012, he was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a terminal neurological disease for which no cure exists. He battled the disease valiantly, determined to spend his remaining time doing the things that he loved – spending time with his family and friends, sailing on his sailboat, Ker Avel, eating exceptional foods, drinking fine wines and doing as much laughing as possible.
A few days after Thanksgiving, on November 26th 2012, the battle ended.
After his passing, his wife Christine and his son Gary contacted Porsche Financial to find out what they were supposed to do with the car. There were still ten months remaining on the lease, and it was of little use now that its driver had passed. At first they were told that the car could be returned early under the “Hardship Clause” in the agreement.
After a further scrutiny into the lease documentation, Porsche Financial let them know that this clause would not apply. Because Gilles had leased the car and appointed a co-signee, they would be forced to either keep the car until the end of the lease or return it early and pay a fee amounting to double the sum of the remaining lease payments.
The decision was obvious: drive that beast to the bitter last mile. The thought of having to pay Porsche for a car that sits around unused, and return it 10,000 miles short of what was allotted in its lease period was absurd. Why grant Porsche such a beautiful lease return when they refused to honor the hardship clause, if even for a little dose of humanity? Anger grew and an idea surfaced.
The lease on the Panamera ends in September, and with 10,000 miles left, what better way to honor Gilles’ memory than to take the car that brought him so much joy, and fill it with friendship and laughter? The same contagious and very special laughter Gilles brought to the world every day. It was time to turn a “hardship” into a “good-ship”.
Gilles also loved an adventure. And that is exactly what The PanAmerica is.
Despite the sadness and the loss, Gilles and his family knew that they were extremely fortunate: they were able to shoulder the astronomical costs which are associated with the equipment ALS patients need to survive and live as comfortably as possible.
The ALS Association works hard to raise awareness, fund research, and most importantly, help families deal with the diagnosis both emotionally and financially.
The Pan America. 10,000 miles, 33 states, 4 friends, and 1 car… for a cause.