PULLMAN, Wash. – Former Cougar and NFL standout Steve Gleason will receive Washington State University’s 2017 Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award August 10.
Seen as the university’s highest alumni honor, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award has been given to graduates who make significant contributions to society and bring attention to the quality of a WSU education.
Gleason is recognized as a leading spokesperson for the effort to find a cure for the neuromuscular disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Diagnosed with ALS in 2011, Gleason said then “There will be no white flags,” and has been fighting ever since. In the six years since his diagnosis, the Team Gleason Foundation he founded has raised awareness of ALS and millions of dollars to fund research and technology.
In 2015, Gleason was the inspiration behind a bill signed into law by former President Barack Obama. The Steve Gleason Act makes critical technology available to ALS patients through Medicare and Medicaid.
As a WSU student athlete from 1995 to 1999, Gleason was a four-year letter winner in both football and baseball. He also earned academic honors in management information systems and entrepreneurship. On the football field, Gleason was a two-time captain, earned All-Pac-10 honors three times and finished his career with the ninth-most tackles in school history. He was a key member of the defense that lead WSU to the 1997 Rose Bowl for the first time in 67 years. He was also captain of the baseball team his senior year.
Gleason played for the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2007 after graduating from WSU. After Hurricane Katrina, Gleason is remembered for blocking a punt that was returned for a touchdown. The block became so symbolic of New Orleans’ resilience that a statue called “Rebirth” was installed outside the Superdome.
WSU President Kirk Schulz and Regent Ron Sims will present the award to Gleason on the Club Level of Martin Stadium.