Just before the start of Superbowl XLVI, amid all the fanfare, excitement and anticipation of the big game, a small group of men with debilitating diseases took to the field to quietly raise awareness of neurological disorders and a possible connection to football.
Steve Gleason was among those few courageous men, who walked slowly and calculatingly onto the field with a cane and the aid of a helping hand.
The 34-year-old became famous for blocking a punt when the Superdome in New Orleans re-opened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Former New Orleans Saints Special Teams player believes his football career was cut short by the fatal neuromuscular disease, ALS.
Commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS may have impaired Gleason’s ability to walk and talk, but hasn’t taken his spirit.
Determined, he found a comforting partner in the NFL in his effort to improve the lives of those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
SuperBowl XLVI in Indianapolis was the site of one of the first initiatives of his foundation, Team Gleason, which provides extraordinary experiences for ALS patients while at the same time raising awareness about the disease.
And it doesn’t end with the Superbowl. Gleason is currently exploring the possibility of a climbing expedition to the summit of Mount Rainier in Washington, his home state, in the fall.
Gleason has inspired others to reach their goals and overcome obstacles.
Just last week, another football player and inspiration has come forward to address the devastating effects strokes, concussions and other neurological conditions have on the body.
Meridian Neuroscience in Neptune has named Harry Carson, former Captain of the New York Giants and Hall of Famer, their spokesperson.
“Many people have been inspired by what Harry has done on the football field, and I know more people will be touched by his commitment to reducing the risk and recognizing signs of stroke and concussion, along with other neuroscience conditions,” said Stephen Martino, M.D., medical director of the Stroke Program for Meridian Neuroscience. “His deep commitment to this cause is great news for our entire community.”