The former Saints player is one of only two nominees to make it this far in the nomination process of the current Congress, according to a news release from Sen. Bill Cassidy. Before being signed by the president, the bill must pass in the House, but it was not immediately clear when the House will take up that vote.
Cassidy spoke on the Senate floor Thursday, where he said Gleason’s story is compelling and impactful.
“He is an example of what makes our country great. He has given hope to many. He gives hope to all those who have ever received a devastating diagnosis, and his message is simple: Your life still has meaning. Your best years can still be ahead of you,” Cassidy said.
The bill was introduced in April and recognizes Gleason for his work through the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive; his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases such as 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.
Previous recipients of the award include Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Walt Disney, Rosa Parks and Thomas Edison.
“I am extremely honored, even overwhelmed, that I’ve been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal,” Gleason said after hearing the news of his nomination earlier this month. “To be considered for this, alongside people like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, the Wright Brothers, and dozens of others is a bit overwhelming. These are are some of the most admirable, noble and revolutionary giants of humanity. These are people whose examples I strive to model my life after. As some slightly less admirable men said in the late 20th century, ‘I’m not worthy’ of this. I’m honored to even be considered.”
Last month, Gleason was awarded an honorary degree from Tulane University during the school’s graduation ceremony in May.
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