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Steve Gleason smiles as he communicates with Saints punter Thomas Morstead during his Seventh Annual Inspire Birthday Celebration at Fulton Alley in New Orleans, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Former New Orleans Saints star and ALS activist Steve Gleason will officially be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal after President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law Thursday. 

The measure introduced by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, was approved Dec. 20 after passing the House 390-2.

Cassidy celebrated Trump's signing of the legislation on Twitter and said work will start soon between Gleason and the U.S. Mint to design his medal. 

The ceremony for Gleason will be scheduled for later this year.

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"Through his work to help others who are disabled, Steve Gleason has changed so many lives for the better," Cassidy said in a statement after the measure passed the House. "Steve is a hero to many and I'm proud we got this done to honor a great American."

Gleason, 41, has amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was diagnosed in 2011. 

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award given by Congress to those who make a lasting contribution to the nation. Previous winners include Mother Teresa, civil rights icon Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King.

"I am honored and accept the Congressional Gold Medal for all the families who have been diagnosed with ALS, as well as anyone struggling to overcome life's inevitable adversities," Gleason wrote on Twitter in response to being awarded the medal in December. 

Gleason is being honored for his work through the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide those with neuromuscular diseases or injuries the assistance they need to thrive. He is also being recognized for his advocacy of federal legislation ensuring that those with diseases like ALS have access to speech-generating devices like the one he uses.


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Gleason played for the Saints from 2000 to 2008.

He is best known for his blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons in the team's first game back in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.

"Steve is leaving a truly indelible mark in American history, and we are honored to call him a true New Orleans Saint," Saints owner Gayle Benson said in December.

Advocate staff writer Will Sentell contributed to this report.


On the day director Clay Tweel screened his first cut of Gleason for its two central figures, former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason a…

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