Saints Glea­son to re­ceive Con­gres­sional Gold Medal

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Rebecca San­tana As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW OR­LEANS (AP) » For­mer New Or­leans Saints player Steve Glea­son, who be­came a lead­ing ad­vo­cate for peo­ple strug­gling with Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease after he was di­ag­nosed with the par­a­lyz­ing con­di­tion, will be awarded the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal dur­ing a cer­e­mony on Jan. 15.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed leg­is­la­tion last year award­ing Glea­son the medal, which is the high­est civil­ian honor awarded by Congress. U.S. Sen. Bill Cas­sidy from Louisiana an­nounced the date for the cer­e­mony in a news re­lease Fri­day, not­ing Glea­son’s strug­gles with amy­otrophic lat­eral scle­ro­sis, a de­gen­er­a­tive neuro-mus­cu­lar dis­ease com­monly re­ferred to as ALS that left Glea­son par­a­lyzed.

“Steve Glea­son has shown tremen­dous courage and re­solve in the face of ALS. He has re­mained pos­i­tive in the face of extreme ad­ver­sity, in­spir­ing all who hear his story,” Cas­sidy said.

On the field, Glea­son is best known for his elec­tri­fy­ing blocked punt dur­ing the Saints’ first game in the re­built Su­per­dome after 2005’s Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina. The city was still re­build­ing from the dev­as­tat­ing hur­ri­cane when Glea

son dove to block a punt in the open­ing min­utes of the game against ri­val At­lanta Fal­cons. The sta­dium it­self had to be re­built after the storm tore open its roof as thou­sands of peo­ple shel­tered in­side.

The 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 (2.7-me­ter-tall) bronze statue out­side the sta­dium called “Re­birth.” 9 feet

Glea­son played seven sea­sons in the NFL — all with New Or­leans. He and his wife con­tinue to live in the city where he’s fre­quently seen at sport­ing events, fundrais­ers, Saints’ foot­ball prac­tices and other events.

In Jan­uary 2011, he was di­ag­nosed with Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease, a strug­gle he doc­u­mented in the 2016 film ti­tled “Glea­son.”

Cas­sidy said Glea­son worked with the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal Com­mit­tee on the medal’s de­sign. It fea­tures Glea­son in a Saints jer­sey. Im­ages of a moun­tain and for­est pay ho­mage to his na­tive state of Wash­ing­ton.

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