Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award
Stephen M. Gleason
Former Cougar and NFL standout Steve Gleason, the world’s spokesperson for the effort to find a cure for the neuro-muscular disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), will receive the 2017 Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award—the highest honor the University confers upon alumni.
Steve Gleason epitomizes the essence of “Cougar Spirit.” His passion to persevere—and succeed—despite life’s challenges, has inspired thousands, not only in the United States, but worldwide.
Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2011, Gleason famously said then “There will be no white flags.” He has kept his promise. His Team Gleason Foundation has raised awareness of ALS and millions of dollars to fund research and technology.
In 2015, Gleason was the inspiration behind a bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. The Steve Gleason Act makes critical technology available to ALS patients through Medicare and Medicaid.
Gleason was named 1 of 2 Sports Illustrated’s Inspirations of the Year in 2014 and has served as a keynote speaker for Microsoft and at 2 United Nations-sponsored Social Innovation Summits. He also partnered with Microsoft to develop a software program so people like him can drive vehicles with their eyes.
As a WSU student athlete from 1995 to 1999, Gleason was a four-year letter winner in both football and baseball. He also earned academic honors in management information systems and entrepreneurship.
On the football field, Gleason was a two-time captain, earned All-Pac-10 honors three times, and finished his career with the ninth-most tackles in school history. He was a key member of the defense and helped lead WSU to the 1997 Rose Bowl for the first time in 67 years. He captained the Cougar baseball team as a senior.
Gleason reached the NFL after graduation, playing for the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2007. He provided New Orleans with its first public moment of joy after Hurricane Katrina when, at the beginning of the Saints’ first game back in the Superdome, he blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown. The blocked punt became so symbolic of New Orleans’ resilience in the face of disaster that a statue, “Rebirth,” depicting Gleason’s play of the game, was installed outside the Superdome.
Gleason will be presented with the RDAA at 2 p.m., Thursday, August 10, on the Club Level of Martin Stadium on the Washington State University Pullman campus. Refreshments will be served following the conclusion of the program.
Please register online to attend the presentation and public address.