SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane native Steve Gleason is under consideration for a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest and most distinguished honor given by Congress.
Federal lawmakers from Louisiana and Washington have submitted legislation to give Gleason the award. U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, a republican from Louisiana, says the honor for Gleason is sought for his work as an advocate for people with ALS.
The legislation was submitted Thursday and is also sponsored by Washington senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell as well as Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
"Steve, a Spokane native, is a hero to me and to so many of us in Eastern Washington," said McMorris Rodgers in a statement to NFL.com. "As a tireless advocate for those with ALS and other degenerative diseases, Steve has helped usher legislation through Congress to permanently provide access to important speech-generating devices for those who've lost their ability to communicate. He has chosen to fight back against ALS, and to undergo this very personal battle in the public eye to bring awareness to this disease and the people who it impacts on a daily basis. That's why I'm proud to join in this effort to recognize Steve with the Congressional Gold Medal."
The award has been given out by Congress since the American Revolution, according to its website, recognizing and expressing “a national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.”
The first recipients of the award participated in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, according to the house of representative’s website.
It has since been broadened to include a broader scope of people.
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and can no longer walk or speak. He has since worked to help better the lives of ALS patients through his organization Team Gleason.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act, which will provide a Medicare payment for communication devices and for the accessories needed to allow them to work effectively. The technology is something people with ALS and similar diseases rely on to communicate.
Locally, if you would like to help people suffering from ALS, Waddell's Brew Pub and Grille in North Spokane has a special "Ales for ALS" hop blend. It is $6 a pint and $1 of that goes to benefit ALS therapy and development institute. The restaurant is selling the drink all summer long until the hops run out.