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Congress awards Steve Gleason highest civilian honor

Former New Orleans Saints special teams standout Steve Gleason has battled ALS for several years

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that awards former Saints special teams standout Steve Gleason the Congressional Gold Medal for his tireless work in pursuit of a cure for the disabling disease ALS.

Gleason made perhaps the most momentous play in the team's history in the Superdome with a blocked punt in 2006 that spurred the Saints to victory in the first game back home after Hurricane Katrina.

He was diagnosed with ALS a few years after his career ended with the Saints. In addition to his personal battle, Gleason has fought for funding for research to cure the disease. In addition his foundation has worked to provide medical equipment for those with ALS. 

The honor is the highest one a civilian can receive. Gleason is expected to receive the award in 2019. 

The Senate passed a measure for the award over the summer. All that remains is a signature by President Donald Trump. 

NFL.com says that no NFL player has ever received the honor. 

"Through his work to help others who are disabled, Steve Gleason has changed so many lives for the better," said Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisina in a statement Thursday. "As more members of Congress heard about Steve's work, the support for this bill only grew. Steve is a hero to many and I'm proud we got this done to honor a great American."

“In Louisiana, Steve Gleason inspired all of us as a New Orleans Saint and has continued to inspire us with his bravery and service to others battling ALS," said U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, R-La. "More than 5,000 people each year are diagnosed with ALS, and Steve Gleason serves as a leading voice in championing the fight against ALS. I am pleased to announce that to honor this service, Congress is awarding Steve Gleason a Congressional Gold Medal. More than 350 Members of Congress signed on to support this legislation, a sign of how powerful a mark Steve Gleason has made on this country. Thank you, Steve.”