Former NFL player Steve Gleason to be awarded 2019 Congressional Gold Medal

Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason watches action prior to a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falconsat the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Combined ShapeCaption
Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason watches action prior to a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falconsat the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Steve Gleason, a former safety with the New Orleans Saints and advocate for people who suffer from neurological diseases, will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal next year.

>> Read more trending news

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Thursday to award Gleason the medal for his efforts to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Louisiana's U.S. lawmakers, Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy and Reps. Cedric Richmond and Steve Scalise, led the effort for Gleason to be recognized.

“Through his work to help others who are disabled, Steve Gleason has changed so many lives for the better,” said Cassidy in a statement. “As more members of Congress heard about Steve’s work, the support for this bill only grew. Steve is a hero to many and I’m proud we got this done to honor a great American.”

Gleason, 41, played for the New Orleans Saints as a defensive back and special teams star for seven seasons, from 2000 to 2006. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Since his diagnosis, Gleason has organized efforts, through his Team Gleason Foundation, to develop technology that will help ALS patients live longer, reported NOLA.com. Gleason helped organize the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, which raised awareness and generated more than $100 million to fight the disease, according to NFL.com.

The bill will now head to President Trump to be signed into law, NOLA.com reported. A ceremony formally honoring Gleason will be held next year in Washington, D.C.

Gleason will be the first New Orleanian and NFL player to receive the award, NOLA.com reported.

About the Author