News Releases

Spokane native & ALS champion, Gleason has dedicated public life to promoting public health awareness, advocating for patients & families  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), along with Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA), announced their bipartisan legislation (S. 2652) to award Washington state native, ALS champion, and former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal is now supported by 34 senators—half of the 67 cosponsors required for the legislation to move forward in the Senate.

The legislation, introduced just a little over two weeks ago, would recognize Gleason for his work through the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive, his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases such as ALS have access to speech generating devices, and his leadership in bringing together the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world.

“Few people make Washington state as proud as Steve Gleason, a Spokane native and WSU standout who not only excelled on the field, but who has gone on to make his biggest impact as a tireless advocate in the health world,” said Senator Murray. “Together with his wife, mother, and everyone at their foundation, Steve has changed countless lives for the better and this legislation symbolizes the strong support Steve and Team Gleason have in the United States Congress.”

“Steve is an inspiration to all of us. His perseverance, determination, and unbreakable spirit have helped the world understand ALS and how it impacts people and their families every day,” said Senator Cantwell. “Because of his work with Congress, Steve has improved the lives of countless people living with ALS by helping them secure access to the latest speech-generating technology. Spokane and Washington state couldn’t be more proud to call Steve one of our own.”

Senators cosponsoring the legislation include Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Boozman (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Angus King, Jr. (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. Before a medal is awarded, the legislation must be passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president.

Previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Edison, 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.