Steve Gleason continues to find adventure, despite ALS


They’re unveiling a statue of Steve Gleason outside the Superdome today.

But the subject of the artwork has been doing anything but standing still.

Gleason, who is battling ALS, continues to fight for a life of adventure for himself and others, even as the disease robs him of his ability to move.

New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan has an emotional update on Gleason’s fight on the day the “Rebirth” statue of his 2006 blocked punt is unveiled.

The disease keeps the former Saints safety confined to a wheelchair now, and speaking has become difficult.

But he recently rode in a sidecar during a motorcycle rally and canoed down the Missouri River, following the route of Lewis and Clark.

“Our guides couldn’t believe it,” said Clare Durrett, marketing director for Team Gleason who accompanied him on the trip. “To see his resilience and his willingness to do everything he physically could do without hesitation was incredible. . . . There were tears on the canoe, and we popped open some champagne for the floaters.”

His Team Gleason foundation’s also trying to help other ALS patients enjoy similar experiences. They’ve sent ALS patients scooters to stay mobile, another went on a trip to Italy which included whitewater rafting and a hot-air balloon ride.

“We really try to focus on those ALS patients who are trying to live by Steve’s example, who are still trying to live life to the fullest and are not giving up and trying to be productive, even though they have this diagnosis,” his wife Michel said.

But as much as his life stands as a testament, the statue of his famous blocked punt against the Falcons represents more.

“To have a statue of you up 100 years from now at the Superdome, I think that’s amazing,” Gleason said. “But I don’t want this to be about me and that play. I want it to be about what that play symbolized, which was a commitment by this community to rebuild.

“This statue is about coming through adversity. It’s about finding your heroes. It’s about commitment and a rebirth for all.”

These have been troubled times for the Saints franchise, but Gleason’s bravery through a real struggle has been remarkable, and moving to those who live far beyond New Orleans.

4 responses to “Steve Gleason continues to find adventure, despite ALS

  1. My Dad was a Saints fan since the team’s birth until the day he died of ALS on February 1st. I watched the disease slowly rob him of every bit of movement, his voice, and his ability to breathe. I hate to see Steve (or anyone else) go through the same thing.

  2. “This statue is about coming through adversity. It’s about finding your heroes. It’s about commitment and a rebirth for all.”

    This is bigger than football. This breaks down all barriers of human complexity and reminds us what we are all capable of. Steve and his family are truly carrying the torch of compassion, humility, and perseverance.

    In these unstable times, it’s nice to know we can still look past our vantage point and see true examples of what we are all capable of in love.

  3. Nice to see something genuinely positive issue from an organization that has otherwise become such an overwhelmingly negative spectacle.

    Perhaps without influences like Vilma & G. Williams around, the Saints can build from this & lead by example (but in a good way this time).

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