NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Federal lawmakers have passed legislation to award former New Orleans Saints and Washington State football player Steve Gleason the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress.
The legislation, which now awaits a signature from President Donald Trump, seeks to honor the 41-year-old Gleason’s work as an advocate for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Gleason, famous for blocking a punt in 2006 on the night the Superdome reopened after Hurricane Katrina, was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. He has spearheaded efforts through the Team Gleason foundation to develop and provide technology to help ALS patients live longer, more fulfilling lives. Those include devices that track eye movements to help paralyzed people type words that can be transformed into speech. Gleason has used the technology to communicate, post messages on social media, address lawmakers from around the world and give motivational speeches to athletes.
Congress this year approved the Gleason Act, which provided funding to help ALS patients get those devices.