This month’s Chicken Soup for the Sole is all about Steve Gleason, a former NFL football player whose life changed forever when he learned he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a degenerative neurological condition that steals a person’s ability to walk and talk. However, this article isn’t about his disease, it’s about the amazing love he’s found since he got the worst news of his life.
Steve Gleason: NFL Fan Favorite
After a solid career as a linebacker for Washington State, Steve Gleason set his sights on the pros. Despite going undrafted, Gleason managed to stick on the New Orleans Saints roster in 2000. He played in 83 NFL games over the course of his 7-year career and was responsible for a memorable blocked punt in a 2006 game against the Falcons, the year the Saints returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Although his career ended after the 2007 season, Gleason remains a fan favorite and was even given a Super Bowl ring from the Saints’ 2009 championship, even though he didn’t play on the team anymore!
A Life-Changing Diagnosis, and a Life-Enriching Child
Although the Gleason family had successfully transitioned to life after football, there was still a shocking twist ahead. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS at the young age of 34, and a month later found out his wife was pregnant with their first child. His son Rivers was born in October of 2011, and despite Gleason’s worsening physical condition, Rivers gave Gleason a new reason to fight for his life. His wife Michel said that “In order to thrive with this disease you need a few things – number one a good support system and number two you need some type of purpose in life to live and fight.” For Gleason, that purpose is his young son, and the amount of attention he shows his son is incredible given the difficulties of living with ALS. Through the use of technology and his amazing support system, Gleason continues to raise awareness and visibility for ALS while putting his family first in everything he does.
My name is Jessica Cox, and I seek to emulate people who refuse to give up on life, no matter how tough their circumstances are. If you’re interested in allowing me to help the attendees at your convention, meeting, or faith-based gathering discover their hidden strengths and learn to live their best possible life, please call me at 520-505-1359 or contact me on my website.