SPOKANE, Wash. – The Senate unanimously passed legislation to award Spokane native, former NFL star and ALS champion, Steve Gleason, with the Congressional Gold Medal on Thursday.

The bill must now pass the House before heading to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“The huge support this legislation received reflects the tremendous respect Steve has garnered in the Senate and across the nation throughout his years of exemplary athleticism and passionate advocacy for ALS survivors and their families,” said Senator Patty Murray in support of the legislation. “I’ve said before that few people make Washington state as proud as Spokane’s own Steve Gleason, and I am delighted that our legislation to award Steve the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest honor, has taken another major step toward the end zone.”

“It is befitting of Steve’s incredible work raising awareness for ALS and improving the lives of so many that he has received unanimous support in the Senate for a Congressional Gold Medal. Through his public advocacy and collaboration with Congress and his leadership of the Gleason Institute, Steve has helped us improve the lives of countless individuals who have been impacted by this disease. Steve is such an inspiration to the people of Spokane, throughout the state of Washington, and across the United States. We are all Team Gleason,” said Senator Cantwell.

The legislation would recognize Gleason for his work with the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide people with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive, his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases like ALS have access to speech generating devices, and his leadership in bringing together the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor Congress gives. Others who have received Congressional Gold Medals include Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, Walt Disney, Sir Winston Churchill, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa.