It's the ultimate story of a local boy, making good. Former Gonzaga Prep standout, Cougar football legend and New Orleans Saints hero Steve Gleason made a name for himself on a national stage. Now, he's fighting for his life and sharing his story with KXLY.
I have been a reporter for 12 years and have interviewed presidential candidates, celebrities and convicted killers. But, I have never been nervous to do an interview - until yesterday. As we pulled up to the Gleasons' vacation cabin at Schweitzer, I felt a knot in my stomach. I wasn't nervous about what questions to ask or what kind of response I would get - I was nervous, because I want more than anything to "do right" by this man and his family.
A little background that you'll see more of in our special report tomorrow: Steve was diagnosed last year with ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease. There is no cure - and, the disease is a painful progression. Steve kept the diagnosis secret for awhile and showed no outward symptoms. But, last fall, he told his story to the world and it took off like wildfire. After appearances at WSU and in the Superdome with the Saints, it was clear - Steve's condition was deteriorated quickly. When we met him yesterday, he used a walker to greet us at the door. Steve can't walk on his own, he needs help feeding himself and getting out of bed. As his wife Michel puts it, "Coming from someone whose able to do everything better than almost anything, his positive attitude and ability to live like he's living and still loves life - it's amazing."
We sat down with Steve and Michel for a little over an hour and they opened up their hearts and their world to us. We met the joy of their life - their son Rivers, who was born 10 months after his dad was told he has two to five years to live. Seeing Steve look at and talk to Rivers, you can't help but think this is just not fair. This man who has, by all accounts, lived an incredible life in service to others, should get the reward of being around to raise his son. But, Steve doesn't think that way. He's not focused about what he can't do - he's too busy living life and raising awareness about ALS.