Former Cougar football and NFL standout Steve Gleason ’00, whose battle with ALS has become an international symbol of perseverance and determination, has been named the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus for 2017.
“Steve Gleason epitomizes the essence of ‘Cougar Spirit,’” said Washington State University President Kirk Schulz at the August 10 ceremony. “His passion to persevere and succeed despite life’s challenges has inspired thousands, not only in the United States, but around the world.”
Gleason helped take WSU to the Rose Bowl in 1997 and in 2006 had a punt-blocking dive for the New Orleans Saints that rallied the hurricane-ravaged city’s down-but-not-out spirit. Five … » More …
Steve Gleason made a name for himself on the football field but his most enduring contribution may be tackling ALS.
The statue built in his honor outside the New Orleans Superdome depicts Steve Gleason ’00 on the gridiron doing what he does best: pushing himself harder and, in turn, inspiring others.
That personal drive didn’t stop when Gleason left the National Football League in 2008. Nor when he was diagnosed in 2011 at the age of 34 with ALS, the terminal neuromuscular disease that has since left him immobile and reliant on eye-controlled technology to communicate.
Gleason, who helped take WSU to the Rose Bowl … » More …
Steve Gleason ’00 has faced opponents on the football field with resilience and fierce energy. He takes that same approach to ALS, pushing for more research into the neurodegenerative disease.
Here are some video highlights of his career:
Better Now than Never: Steve Gleason at WSU (WSU Athletics)
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a terminal disease that attacks motor neurons, causing patients to lose muscle function. Patients gradually lose their ability to move or speak. Since patients can still move their eyes, advances in eye-tracking technology allow them to operate computer programs, including text to speech software. This eye-tracking technology is the person’s last link to communication—the key to a social or productive life.
However, existing software and hardware is expensive and not accessible to most people with the disease. Led by Professor Dave Bakken ’85, a group of computer science students is working to develop a less … » More …