Drew Brees gives emotional speech as Steve Gleason receives Congressional Gold Medal

Tanya Simon
January 16, 2020

Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy nominated Gleason for the Congressional Gold Medal, which is the highest honor that Congress can award a civilian.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue were among the many dignitaries who also attended the ceremony.

"This award, from the elected officials who represent the people of the United States of America, is a sublime honor for me, but I feel that more importantly, this honor represents some joy, encouragement and even triumph for the tens of thousands of extraordinary families now enduring life with ALS", Gleason said. "You bring pride to our nation".

Former NFL player and ALS advocate Steve Gleason receives honor.

"For the 13 years I've known Steve, if i were to sum up his attitude, his tenacity, his matra - it would be it's not a matter of if we will l accomplish the goal, it's only when", Brees said.

His activism with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, began after he retired and founded Team Gleason Foundation, non-profit that helps provide services for people living with the disease. Those include devices that track eye movements to help people who are paralyzed type words that can be transformed into speech.

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You can tell. Gleason means A TON to Brees - 'cause Wednesday was not only Drew's 41st birthday, but his son's 11th as well.

The date of the ceremony was announced Friday, January 10, a full year after lawmakers approved to award Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal.

"There are significant moments in our lives that we remember, both tragedy and triumph". "He has remained positive in the face of extreme adversity, inspiring all who hear his story".

After concluding his speech, he received a standing ovation from a crowd that included members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, team owner Gayle Benson, and current and former National Football League commissioners Roger Goodell and Paul Tagliabue.

Gleason, who competed for the Saints from 2000-06, became a New Orleans hero with his 2006 blocked punt in the first Saints game at the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina. It's not for nothing that he's the only Saints player immortalized with a bronze statue standing outside the team's home stadium. "It's ridiculously overwhelming. I am honored and accept the Congressional Gold Medal for all the families who have been diagnosed with ALS, as well as anyone struggling to overcome life's inevitable adversities".

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