As a Safety for the New Orleans Saints (2000-2008) Steve is an icon to fans and the people of New Orleans. During the Saints’ first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, Steve blocked a punt that was then returned for a Saints’ touchdown. This moment came to symbolize the rebirth and resilience of the city of New Orleans. It would not be the last time Steve showed the potential for greatness that lives within us all.
In 2011, Steve received the devastating diagnosis of ALS. Every 90 seconds, someone is diagnosed with the disease. Only 10% of those diagnosed survive at least 10 years. Most people survive only 2-5 years.
Rather than be defeated by the diagnosis, Steve made it his mission to inspire patients with ALS to not only live with the disease, but to thrive. He and his wife Michel formed Team Gleason, a non-profit that helps provide leading edge technology, equipment and services to individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries.
Today, people with ALS live more independently at Team Gleason House for Innovative Living in New Orleans. Team Gleason has also helped hundreds of people with the disease experience and document adventures they never thought possible. Those documentaries are raising awareness of the devastating effects of ALS, and inspiring the pursuit to find treatments to end the disease.
One of those documentaries is Steve’s own submission to the Sundance Film Festival. Steve began it as a record of himself, for his son Rivers. It has become a poignant and powerful story of a father who wants to be there for his son long after his own passing. In the process of capturing life lessons for his son, it has become an example of the courage, compassion and dedication to Fatherhood that make Steve a true HERO in our eyes.
Steve, who has done so much for others already, has so much more to do in the time left to him.