SPOKANE, Wash --- Former NFL star and ALS patient Steve Gleason gave a big lift to a recent Gonzaga Prep graduate this week.
Doctors diagnosed Gonzaga Prep senior Ella McKeirnan, 18, with a rare pediatric cancer in March.
Doctors told her she most likely would not feel well enough to give the valedictorian address at her Gonzaga Prep graduation in June while going through chemotherapy, but she managed to make it to the stage to give an inspirational speech her classmates won’t forget.
KREM’s Project Inspire story on Ella’s speech became one of the most viewed across the nation with almost one million page views.
Steve, a 1995 Gonzaga Prep graduate, heard about Ella’s cancer fight and sent her an inspirational message just before graduation.
On Monday KREM 2 Anchor Jane McCarthy gave Steve one of the Team Ella wristbands (worn by friends and family to show Ella support) while he was in Spokane for the Gleason Golf Classic to raise money for his foundation to help ALS patients.
Steve broke out in a huge grin when presented with the gift and started wearing the bracelet.
When Ella saw the pictures of him with her bracelet she texted,” Oh my gosh, that’s awesome! Love the mani [Steve’s green and white manicure matched the colors of his Gleason Fest concert event this Saturday]. Looks great with the bracelet. Tell him thank you for me.”
Ella is still undergoing cancer treatment at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.
She has delayed her college decision until next year and will decide among several schools, including the University of Notre Dame, the University of Washington and Cal-Berkeley.