Ex-WSU Cougar Steve Gleason honored by Congress for ALS work

Steve Gleason amyotrophic lateral sclerosis advocate and former NFL player

"This award represents the people of the United States of America and is a sublime honor for me", Gleason, who no longer can speak on his own, said through a computer-generated voice.

"No one is immune from anguish, tragedy or adversity".

"I texted my wife Brittany to let her know that we had landed safely, and then I saw an email pop up from Steve Gleason".

In a statement posted to Twitter, Gleason said he felt "undeserving" but "honored".

The ceremony was led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and was attended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his predecesor, Paul Tagliabue, among other league figures. "I am honored and accept the Congressional Gold Medal for all the families who have been diagnosed with ALS, as well as anyone struggling to overcome life's inevitable adversities".

Team Gleason, Gleason's foundation, has provided nearly $10 million in technology, equipment, care service and adventures to people living with ALS and also works to raise awareness of the disease and creating conversations aimed at finding solutions and an end to ALS.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees accompanied Gleason to the United States Capitol on Wednesday to support his former teammate.

Among the successes of his charity - Team Gleason - was a 2015 challenge made to Microsoft to create a way for people who are completely paralyzed to navigate their power wheelchairs with their eyes.

The Congressional delegation of Louisiana spoke at the ceremony highlighting the work that Gleason has done to further the cause of those fighting ALS.

His emotional speech left Brees choked up as he recalled the time when he first heard about Gleason's diagnosis.

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy was the original filer of the legislation to award the medal and says he worked closely with Gleason's charitable organization, Team Gleason on the project. "Through his example of how he lives, he has changed life for us all. Thank you for being a hero". His final block occurred against Atlanta on September 26, 2006, the night the Superdome reopened for the first time since it was heavily damaged while serving as a shelter of last resort for thousands who'd remained in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck almost 13 months earlier.

Gleason's play was such an important part of the team's history and the city's recovery that it was immortalized in a 9-foot-tall bronze statue outside the stadium called "Rebirth."



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