Gay’s story as a donor to the MS Society of Canada is a little different than most. Her connection to the disease isn’t a direct one. Instead, Gay found her reason to support the Society through the intersection of her love of music and science.
As an introverted child, Gay wanted nothing more than to study music. With parents who supported her dream, she was able to study piano with the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto up to grade 12. At that point, Gay had to decide whether to continue her path with music, or choose the path of science, her other love. She chose to pursue a degree in science. Gay received a masters in bio chemistry and went on to work in cancer research for nine years. Then, at the age of 34, she returned to university to become a veterinarian, an accomplishment she’s most proud of.
During her formative years with the Conservatory, Gay discovered the work of Jacqueline du Pré, a brilliant British cellist who influenced many generations of classical musicians. du Pré was diagnosed with MS in 1973 and had to give up playing at the age of 28 when she began to lose sensitivity in her fingers. She died in 1987 at age 42. Despite her short career, she is regarded as one of the greatest cellists of all time. “Because of my interest in immune mediated diseases and in honour of my love of Jacqueline du Pré, the MS Society of Canada became one of my charities of choice.” says Gay.
The advancement of research into MS is paramount in Gay’s view. “MS is so debilitating, and it can hit out of the blue and completely take someone’s life from them.” Gay continues, “I really think if researchers find the answer to multiple sclerosis, they will find the answer to many, many other related diseases. “
Gay and her husband believe it’s important to give back as much as you can, and she feels fortunate that they are able to do so. Along with the MS Society, they also donate to several other charities including those that support the arts, environmental and wildlife conservation, health and their community.
Having retired in 2020, Gay now has more time to play the piano and travel with her husband. One of her most favourite places to visit is a little town at the base of the Matterhorn in Switzerland called Zermatt. “We love to hike up the mountain, hike up higher than the clouds, where the views just take my breathe away,” Gay exclaims. “And at the top of the mountains, you have amazing French restaurants where you can enjoy a lovely meal before starting the decline back to town. I can still do it but at the age of 70, you start to wonder how many years you have left to do this kind of physical activity. We had to miss last year because of the pandemic but I’m hoping we can hike it at least one more time.”