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My C5 "Stress Reliever"

Jay Wilhelm

My Corvette story does not begin with my first Corvette, but rather my second. My first Corvette was a 1967 Coupe purchased in 1998 as a car to “piddle” with on weekends. In 1999, my wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Her cancer was aggressive and she was getting treatment in Indianapolis, Indiana, which was over 150 miles round trip for us.

She took 15 chemotherapy treatments for several months, and in early 2000 underwent a bilateral mastectomy. Thirty days after her mastectomy, came six months of “aggressive” chemotherapy treatments: three times a week, three weeks on and one week off per month. These treatments were preceded by a 90 minute drive, lasted several hours, and were followed by another 90 minute drive home.

I had started a new business shortly before my wife was diagnosed, and when I wasn’t driving her to treatments, I spent my time working. I had no time to enjoy my 1967 and longed to have something I could enjoy driving on a daily basis to help relieve the stress.

In April, 2000, while my wife was in a chemotherapy session, I ventured to a nearby Chevy dealer to “window shop” and came across a newly-traded Torch Red 1999 Coupe. I fell in love and traded my 1999 Ford F150 truck on the spot. I picked up my wife in our “new” Corvette. She loved it, and we drove it back and forth to her treatments for the next three months. It made the tedious drives much more enjoyable and I was glad to have it as my daily driver. My wife has been in remission for 15 years, and I still have the 1999 Coupe…as well as three other Corvettes!. The 1999 has gone through some changes, including a Mallett 396 conversion, and when I drive it I still think about how that car helped us through some stressful times and how lucky I am to still have that car along with my healthy wife. That 1999 Corvette introduced us to a fun lifestyle, and subsequently, to some very good friends.

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