WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAFB) - U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy and other members of Congress presented former Saints player and ALS advocate, Steve Gleason, with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow on a civilian.
The ceremony was held in the United States Capitol in Statuary Hall on Jan. 13.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was also at the ceremony and tweeted out a photo with Gleason.
Senator John Kennedy attended the ceremony as well.
“I am so honored to see Steve Gleason receive the Congressional Gold Medal for his tireless work advocating for ALS patients. He holds a special place in the heart of every Louisianan, not only for his on-field heroics, but for his work raising support and assistance for those battling ALS. Steve is an inspiration to millions of Americans, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves this honor more,” Kennedy said in a press release.
Gleason is one of fewer than 200 people who have been awarded the medal, which requires an act of Congress. He will also be the first NFL player to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
Gleason became a Saints icon after blocking a key punt against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football in the team’s first game back in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in January of 2011. He would go on to create Team Gleason, a charitable organization that has provided almost $10 million in adventure, technology, equipment, and care services to more than 15,000 people living with ALS.