Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- In front of former Saints safety Steve Gleason's home, came an early Christmas surprise.

'Obviously, Steve Gleason was a hero to New Orleans, even before the blocked punt, and just an inspiration to all,' said Glen Golemi of United Healthcare.

The gift is called 'The Big Easy' -- a lightweight, specially-built tandem bicycle, designed for Gleason to use. He was an avid cyclist before his diagnosis of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

'Right after he retired from football, cycling was his sport of choice because his knees are kind of blown out from playing football,' said Gleason's wife, Michel. 'So, he was really big into cycling.'

On Thursday morning, Michel, United Healthcare and the non-profit group 'Ride 2 Recovery' surprised Gleason at his home with the new bicycle. 'Ride 2 Recovery' helps injured military veterans recover from their injuries through cycling events.

This coming March, the group will ride 450 miles across the Gulf Coast -- from New Orleans to Tallahassee, Florida -- and the new bicycle is their way of drafting Gleason to join them.

'It had to be specially-designed to help Steve with his condition to work it,' Golemi said. 'And then he'll have someone up in the front, and I think his wife Michel is going to work with him.'

Gleason said he initially had doubts about it, but those eased after he tried out his new wheels around the neighborhood.

'I think it goes along with what we've always said and Team Gleason-- if you have enough support, perseverance and creativity, you can do anything,' Gleason said. 'I'm just grateful to them for bringing that support and that creativity. So, let's go.'

The 'Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge' is scheduled for March 3. For more details, click here.

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