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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- At City Park Sunday, cheers rang out as thousands of runners crossed the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon / Half Marathon finish line.

Among the field were men and women from all 50 states and 23 countries, nine Olympians, two gold medal winners and a local hero former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason, who is battling ALS.

'I felt like I was running with thousands of my family members,' Gleason said.

From start to finish, spectators and fellow participants expressed support for Gleason, who took part in the half marathon with the help of his brother-in-law, Vinnie Varisco.

'It's a reaffirmation of the love that he's always shown for the city. The city returns that love, and you could tell, all along the route, you heard 'Who Dat' chants, go Saints, and go Team Gleason, no white flags, so, he had a big smile on his face most of the ride,' said Varisco.

The race marked the latest step in Gleason's ongoing fight against ALS.

For his foundation, Team Gleason, it was a chance to raise money and awareness, and for Steve himself -- another opportunity to overcome.

'I believe that continuing to live the life you love, despite adversity, is a critical element for everyone. We have tried to emphasize this with the activities we embrace,' Gleason said.

It's a mentality that has inspired many, like Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who also ran in support of Gleason and his foundation.

'Just to be around him is super inspiring and it's very much like the height of human goodness, is what he does. He doesn't let his disease beat him. He is not his disease, he is himself,' McCready said.

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