Background on acquiring the '97 C5
Late in 1997, at age 51, Sandy was undergoing rigorous chemotherapy for a recurrence
of breast cancer that had spread to her lymph system. During the infusions, she would think happy
thoughts. These thoughts always included traveling with her husband, Ben, in her
beloved 1963 Corvette
convertible. The months of treatments dragged on. During each session her mind would wander farther, to distant
Corvette shows, where she would speak about cancer - about
detection and prevention and research - and she would raise money for the
American Cancer Society.
The images became more vivid, and, without
realizing it, she wasn't daydreaming any
longer, she was planning!
She told Ben, "I know this recurrence
is NOT a good thing. As soon as I'm done with this course of treatment, and
while I'm still able, I want to sell the '63, get a C5 [the newest model], and go on a tour of the
country, hitting all the major Corvette shows, speaking whenever I have the opportunity,
distributing cancer information and raising money for the American
Cancer Society. Whatever it takes, I'm going to find a way!"
Sandy became focused on making the Corvettes Conquer
Cancer Tour a reality! Looking back on it later, she would laugh and say that
the idea was "drug induced"!
Corvettes Conquer Cancer
Having made the leap from daydream to actual planning stage,
Sandy's first call was to her old friend,
Corvette Museum founder, the late Dan
immediately went into high gear, lining up the contacts in the Corvette field
whom he thought could help. Throughout the rest of the winter and through the
spring of 1998 Sandy developed a schedule of events to go to, and lined up a
major sponsor (the self-proclaimed "World's Largest Corvette Dealer") who was to provide the use a new C5 Corvette for the Tour and cover
All this time, Sandy was completing the
debilitating chemotherapy, and undergoing screening for a bone marrow transplant
at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Long before the days of Google, she became adept at searching the
internet for information about her disease and the effectiveness of a variety of
treatment options, including the bone marrow transplant. She didn't like what
she found. The transplant would require that she be in total isolation for 1-2
months, followed by near isolation for many months afterward. This would
obviously preclude doing her Tour. The worst part was the fact that the
results FOR BREAST CANCER were not promising at all. She decided not to take that
path, instead receiving radiation after the completion of chemotherapy. Months later, published results of clinical trials have supported her
Talks with the sponsor progressed to the point of
"what color and what options" for the C5. Torch Red, of course, and
automatic. The Tour schedule was filling in nicely, and would kick off with a
sendoff from the Maine Governor's mansion on June 11!
in April, Sandy's beloved '63, "Velvet", was sold to a gentleman from
Indiana, Mike Amick. This was a sad day for Sandy and Ben. The '63 had been a part of the
family since 1977, and had been sold in '81 and repurchased in '90. Together, they
were responsible for a cellar-full of trophies from shows, including a
"Best In Show", and 60,000 miles of fun.
Then came a
major setback! The sponsor became increasingly hard to reach. Calls were not
returned. Finally, the bad news: with less than a month before the Tour was to start,
the deal was off!
most people this would have been a disaster, but NOT FOR SANDY! She
mulled this over for all of a few minutes, realizing that common sense would dictate
quitting. Her determination to go through with her plan prevailed, however, and
she called her friend Sonny Soule, who dealt in used Corvettes locally. Then she
started working on the finances.
Long story short: Three days
later, on May 21, she picked up her new (slightly used) '97 Torch Red automatic Vette!
With the help
of refinancing the house, cashing in her IRAs, and the sale of the '63, she now
nearly flawless 10,000 mile C5 for what became her mission: the Corvettes
Conquer Cancer Tour!
21 days to get acquainted with the new car and
get some graphics installed on it!