(Download video of Cassidy’s comments here.)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) participated in a ceremony today where former New Orleans Saints and ALS advocate Steve Gleason received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow upon a civilian.
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in January 2011. Since his diagnosis, he has been a champion of accessibility for crucial speech-generating devices. He went on to establish Team Gleason, a charitable non-profit organization that has provided almost $10 million in adventure, technology, equipment and care services to more than 15,000 people living with ALS.
Cassidy was the original filer of the legislation to award the medal. He worked in conjunction with Gleason’s charitable organization, Team Gleason, and shepherded the bill through Congress to present Gleason with the medal. Gleason joins the likes of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II as one of fewer than 200 people who have been awarded the medal, which requires an act of Congress.
“Once you told Steve’s story to people, it wasn’t hard to get their support because Steve’s story is about giving hope,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Giving hope through a football game, but more importantly to those with disabilities. Indeed, anyone who knows his life, whatever your obstacle is, if Steve can overcome his, then you can overcome yours. He gives hope.”
Gleason worked hands-on with the Congressional Gold Medal Committee on the medal’s design, which depicts him in his Saints jersey and honors his native state, Washington, with pleasant images of a mountain and alpine forest.
Gleason instantly became a Saints icon when he blocked a punt against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football in the Saints’ first home game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. He is the first NFL player to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
To download video of Cassidy’s comments, click here.