Posted on September 6, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Friday, Sep 6 at 10:33 PM
Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: email@example.com | Twitter: @taniadall
NEW ORLEANS -- A large crowd packed Champions Square on Friday night for Gleason Gras. Every year the outdoor music festival helps raise money for former Saints player Steve Gleason and his foundation as he continues to battle a terminal neuro-muscular disease.
When Gleason Gras calls, musicians, Saints fans and the 610-Stompers answer -- so does Drew Brees who helped auction off items at the fundraising event.
"We're all just huge Saints fans. I just want to support the Saints. They support the community in so many ways," said Ben Brubaker.
On Friday night, most people in the crowd wore their black and gold proud. Who Dat fans showing their support for Gleason.
"Come together for the Saints, we're about to start up that season," said Malliron Hodge.
Back in 2011, Gleason was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS. Two years later, he is confined to a wheelchair, can't talk and relies on technology to communicate and get around. But the terminal diagnosis and the side effects haven't stopped the former athlete from starting a foundation to raise awareness about the disease. Gleason also continues to challenge the medical community to find a cure.
"We decided to come out and support Gleason," said Arielle Avcalade, who made the trip to New Orleans from South Carolina with her father. The daughter-father duo are visiting family -- taking in football and Gleason Gras was an added bonus.
"I'm a nurse and I just think putting awareness out there of ALS, that is fantastic because it's a bad disease," said Avcalade.
Derrick Edwards and his mother also joined Team Gleason supporters on Friday night.
Back in 1989, a high school football injury damaged Edwards' spinal cord leaving him quadriplegic. Now a practicing attorney, Edwards says despite life's obstacles, life goes on. He says he has been in touch with Gleason by email and hoped to meet him at Champions Square.
"I'm looking forward to meeting him today and let him know, him and his family are appreciated and loved and many people are praying for him," added Edwards.
If you'd like to support Gleason's foundation CLICK HERE