Steve Gleason – ALS Fighter
Steve was a professional football player with the New Orleans Saints. Originally from Spokane, Washington, Gleason excelled in football while he was in high school. After graduation, he accepted a scholarship to play football at Washington State. He was a four-year starter for the Cougars and played linebacker for the 1997 team that advanced to the Rose Bowl.
Gleason signed with the Saints in November of 2000. On September 25, 2006, he blocked a punt that his teammate recovered for a touchdown. Because Hurricane Katrina had damaged the area so badly, the Saints were forced to play their games elsewhere for a season. Gleason’s blocked punt sparked the first touchdown that had been scored in New Orleans in nearly 21 months. This spectacular play became a symbol of hope and recovery for the whole New Orleans community.
Gleason retired from the NFL in 2007 and was diagnosed with ALS four years later. A few weeks after his diagnosis, Steve and his wife found out they were pregnant. Knowing that his days were numbered, Gleason started making video journals for his unborn child. He wanted his son to know him even after he was gone. He recorded himself reading children’s books, talking about religion and love, and he even taught him how to build a campfire.
As the disease progressed, Gleason hired a camera crew to help document his life. The documentary shows a real, raw view of what it’s like to have to have ALS be a part of your family life, and Gleason is happy his journey has generated awareness for this disease. His wife, Michel, has been his rock throughout his battle with ALS. “You have a mom who is incredible,” Gleason says to his son Rivers in the film. “She’s incredible. And we are lucky to have her.”