Steve Gleason has served as an inspiration to people worldwide.
In return, the former Saints star is a candidate to be honored for his work in the areas of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research.
Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to award Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal in response to his work with the Gleason Initiative Foundation, according to a news release from the office of Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA).
"Steve Gleason was a hero for Saints fans and now he is a hero for all Americans as he finds hope and meaning in overcoming disability and creating greater opportunity for others who are disabled," Dr. Cassidy said in a statement.
Gleason spent seven years as a defensive back and special teams star for the Saints and has battled ALS since 2011. Gleason memorably helped organize the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, which raised awareness and generated more than $100 million to fight the disease.
"On behalf of the New Orleans Saints we extend our most sincere support for awarding Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal," said Saints owner Gayle Benson in a statement. "Along with his wife, Michel, and everyone at Team Gleason, they are courageously confronting ALS with an unwavering determination, unselfishly providing countless afflicted people with the latest in technology and services. Steve is leaving a truly indelible mark in American history."
Along with Cassidy, senators Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) helped introduce the bipartisan, bicameral legislation in the Senate (S.2652) and House to honor Gleason, a Washington state native.
"Steve, a Spokane native, is a hero to me and to so many of us in Eastern Washington," said Rep. Rodgers. "As a tireless advocate for those with ALS and other degenerative diseases, Steve has helped usher legislation through Congress to permanently provide access to important speech-generating devices for those who've lost their ability to communicate. He has chosen to fight back against ALS, and to undergo this very personal battle in the public eye to bring awareness to this disease and the people who it impacts on a daily basis. That's why I'm proud to join in this effort to recognize Steve with the Congressional Gold Medal."
Said Rep. Richmond: "Steve Gleason is not just a beacon of hope in New Orleans, but across the country. His work on the field lifted the hearts of Saints fans, but his work off the field is actually improving lives. Steve is doing remarkable work and is truly an inspiration. Awarding him a Congressional Gold Medal would be the best way to honor him."
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow.
Previous recipients include Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Irving Berlin, Robert Frost, Bob Hope, Walt Disney, Roberto Clemente, Sir Winston Churchill, John Wayne, the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic Team, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Ruth and Billy Graham, Frank Sinatra, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus.