In 2003, the letters “A-L-S” increasingly resonated with the daily life of Gilles Martel.
While a certain Jean Lepage raised funds for ALS in the Charlevoix region, his very good friend Ghislain, and his wife Angèle, were facing the consequences of the disease. “We had known them for 25, 30 years. Everything in Ghislain’s personal and professional life with his business was going well. But then, overnight, he was diagnosed with ALS and everything fell apart.” Faithful to their long-time friends, Gilles and his wife Céline decided to journey by their side, taking part in initiatives to support the ALS Society like the ALS Walk in Montreal.
Inspired by the resilience and courage of those he met at the event, Gilles undertook to offer the Charlevoix region its own walk. “The sight of people living with the disease, who were taking part in the Walk to find a solution, even though they could have just “quit”, impressed me,” says the man from La Malbaie, “They become so powerless, so it takes healthy people to start initiatives such as these ones.”
“For sure, I have my limits, but I have tried to bring something additional to raise funds and awareness. There is never enough awareness. Those who live with ALS have a heart, they have feelings, and we must continue to help them.”
Fourteen years after the first edition, the event has become a symbolic gathering point for more than a hundred people in the Charlevoix region, to the greatest satisfaction of Mr. Martel. “People get together to remember their loved ones. We give them a moment during the year to raise funds for research, but also an opportunity to remember people who have left us and who had the courage to get through this, even though it is difficult.”
Looking at the road traveled, it is without any pretence that the man feels that he has helped further the cause, one walk at a time and one year at a time. “For sure, I have my limits, but I have tried to bring something additional to raise funds and awareness. There is never enough awareness. Those who live with ALS have a heart, they have feelings, and we must continue to help them.” Although Gilles remains very modest when thinking of his own accomplishments, the Society recognizes the invaluable contribution made through his commitment and through the support that he has given this cause without fail, for so many years, to the families in his region.