Five years ago, Steve Gleason experienced one of the high points of his football life.
The former New Orleans Saints safety participated in one of the most dramatic moments in the NFL on September 25, 2006. His blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons highlighted the re-opening of the Louisiana Superdome, which had been closed since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Five years after that memorable game, Gleason announced that he had been diagnosed with ALS (or Lou Gehrig's disease), a fatal disease that damages the nerves that control muscle movement. There is currently no cure, but that hasn't stopped Gleason from trying to raise awareness.
A day before the Saints' 49-24 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation hosted the first annual Gleason Gras, an all day festival featuring music, games, food, and other entertainment. WWLTV covered the event, which raised $200,000. That money will go to the Gleason Family Trust to help offset the costs of living with ALS.
Yet for Gleason, this was just the opening act. He told WWLTV that the ultimate goal is to raise global and national awareness about ALS. That's a big part of why he founded his own nonprofit, Team Gleason. That organization has multiple arms, including the Gleason Initiative Foundation, which works to help other patients struggling with Lou Gherig's Disease.
History tells us that Steve Gleason will lose his battle with ALS, as many have done before him. But maybe, just maybe, his efforts can pave the way toward a cure in the future. To read more about Gleason Gras and Team Gleason, head on over to WWLTV.