SPOKANE, Wash. -- In August of 2013, former star football player, Steve Gleason’s jersey number was retired at Gonzaga Prep.
On that day, Gleason declared his love for his alma mater.
“I think more than any other organization, Gonzaga Prep has done more to make me into the man I am today,” said Gleason.
Gleason has earned a reputation as a man who puts others before himself. Even as ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) strips his mobility, Steve works through his Gleason Initiative Foundation to help others with ALS live a better life.
Gonzaga Prep sophomore, Joseph Heinen met Gleason the day Gleason’s number was retired. He has now come to realize how Gleason is directly affecting his own life. Heinen is the first recipient of the Steve Gleason Scholarship.
Gleason’s scholarship helps provide tuition support at Gonzaga Prep for families dealing with neurological or physical challenges.
Heinen’s father, Mike, a G-Prep alum, has multiple sclerosis. He and his wife Mary adopted two daughters from China and adopted Joseph eight years ago.
Gonzaga Prep President Al Falkner knew the Heinen family would be good recipients of Gleason’s scholarship.
“We heard they would like their son to come here but it was going to be a financial challenge for them so all of a sudden we had this opportunity with the Gleason Scholarship and it matched perfectly with Joseph,” said Falkner.
Joseph has grown to love his school and come to appreciate the man behind his scholarship. He also admires Gleason’s motto, “No white flags.”
“Which is really inspiring because there are times you wouldn’t think he would be able to get back up from it but he did it anyway,’ said Joseph.
He is hoping to use the Steve Gleason Scholarship to help him soar to a successful career.