Steve Gleason, the former Washington State football and baseball player who has inspired millions in his battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, has been named co-recipient of the 2014 Sports Illustrated Inspiration of the Year award.
Gleason was honored along with Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who suffers from the same disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS). As with Gleason, Frates – who started the Ice Bucket Challenge – is fighting to raise awareness and funds to seek a cure for ALS.
The ALS Association estimates that 30,000 Americans currently suffer from ALS. There is no known cure. Many victims die within five years.
Gleason, a Spokane native, was known for his hard work on special teams and involvement in the community when he played for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2011.
“People were simply expected to fade away quietly and die,” Gleason told Sports Illustrated. “That was not acceptable to me. That is not OK.”
Read more about Gleason and Frates here.