Former Saints player Steve Gleason addresses Louisiana House of Representatives, raises ALS awareness _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Former Saints defender Steve Gleason speaks to Louisiana House of Representative members during a break in debate on tax bills in the House earlier this year.


Amid the flurry of action on tax bills Thursday, the Louisiana House had a very special visitor: former Saints safety Steve Gleason.

Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, is confined to a wheelchair and now relies on a computer to talk. That didn’t stop him from addressing the House during a brief and emotionally-charged break in the chamber’s efforts to come up with enough money to prevent deep cuts to higher education funding in the coming year.

Gleason, who graciously told the House that he knows they have important work to do, used the opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges that ALS patients face and promote federal legislation that seeks to expand access to medical devices like the ones he relies on.

“If I told you my opinions on marrying, marijuana and taxes, you may want to take my tablet away,” he joked to the conservative body. “Luckily, you don’t have to decide who can communicate through technology like mine right now.”