Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason has been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts on behalf of people with disabilities.
Legislation was introduced in the Senate and House to honor Gleason with that award, according to a Thursday press release from the office of U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
"Steve Gleason was a hero for Saints fans and now he is a hero for all Americans as he finds hope and meaning in overcoming disability and creating greater opportunity for others who are disabled," Dr. Cassidy said in a statement.
Gleason spent seven years as a defensive back and special teams star for the Saints. He retired from football in 2008 and announced in 2011 he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Gleason helped organize the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, which raised awareness and generated more than $100 million for research to fight the disease.
He established The Gleason Initiative Foundation, known simply as Team Gleason. He coined the phrase "No White Flags."
The Gleason Initiative raised global awareness about ALS and also helped provide people with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with technology, equipment and services.
"On behalf of the New Orleans Saints we extend our most sincere support for awarding Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal," said Saints owner Gayle Benson, according to the Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, La. "Along with his wife, Michel, and everyone at Team Gleason, they are courageously confronting ALS with an unwavering determination, unselfishly providing countless afflicted people with the latest in technology and services. Steve is leaving a truly indelible mark in American history."
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. Before the medal can be awarded, legislation must be passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the President.