News Releases

Standout WA football star and health care advocate becomes first NFL player in history to receive highest civilian honor Congress can bestow

Popular bipartisan legislation will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the House’s passage of bipartisan legislation (S. 2652) to award Washington state native, ALS champion, and former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal, following the Senate passage in June. The bill, championed by Murray, Cantwell, as well as Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) and U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“The Congressional Gold Medal is reserved for those individuals who make a profound and lasting contribution to our country – and Mr. Gleason has certainly done that,” said Senator Murray. “For those of us who’ve followed him from his early days in eastern Washington, to anyone just learning about his story today, we are all so fortunate that Steve brings the same fight and passion to his health care advocacy that he brought to the football field. Steve, you make Washington state so proud, and it’s been my honor to play a role in helping your Congressional Gold Medal come to fruition.”

“The lives of countless people have been improved because of Steve’s determination, perseverance, and advocacy. Rather putting up a white flag, Steve used his own devastating diagnosis to inspire a nation and make sure people living with ALS have access to the latest speech-generating technology. It is befitting that Steve’s incredible work be recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal,” said Senator Cantwell.

The Stephen Michael Gleason Congressional Gold Medal Act recognizes 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.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. 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.

ICYMI: Watch Senator Murray’s Senate floor speech on Steve Gleason HERE. Watch Senator Cantwell’s floor speech HERE.