Saints quarterback Drew Brees joined former teammate Steve Gleason in accepting a donation for technology that can help people living with ALS and multiple sclerosis. Gleason showed off the technology that he says will help other patients live richer lives.
Gleason says when he was diagnosed two years ago with ALS, he didn’t know how to cope with the condition that’s left him in a wheelchair and unable to speak. But his wheelchair now has equipment that allows him to talk, as directed by his eyes.
“This is my first public speech using my synthetic voice," he said. "The first of many.”
Gleason became a hometown hero for blocking a punt in the first game held in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. After his illness, Gleason’s devoted himself to helping others with his condition.
“A terminal diagnosis can really mess with your head," Gleason said.
"Honestly it makes you want to run away to the moon. I believe that because ALS research is under-funded and under-resourced, many ALS patients end up fading away quietly and dying. I did not want to fade away quietly.”
Brees was on hand to help Gleason accept $350,000 from Chase Bank that will buy the technology Gleason is using. The Team Gleason House will be part of the St. Margaret’s Skilled Nursing residence being built in the former Lindy Boggs Hospital in Mid-City.
Brees said, "As great as the blocked punt in the first home game after Katrina that was a product of Steve Gleason’s hustle, technology within this residence represents a revolutionary advancement in ALS care. It will change lives, and it is a great gift to New Orleans, which is thriving thanks to innovation, inspiration and technology.”
The nursing residence is set to start taking patients in the spring.