By Terri Troncale, Contributing writer | NewOrleansSaints.com
In the 244 years since Congress awarded George Washington the first Congressional Gold Medal, a handful of individual athletes have received the honor: Baseball Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, boxing champ Joe Louis, Olympic track star Jesse Owens, golf legends Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
This week, former New Orleans Saints special teams ace Steve Gleason will be added to that list.
Gleason, who has done groundbreaking work to support people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis since he was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, will receive the medal during a ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 15, in Washington.
After Congress confirmed his nomination for the medal in December 2018, Gleason put the moment in perspective.
“Talk about feeling undeserving! The list of past winners is filled with enlightened and powerful giants of humanity. It’s ridiculously overwhelming,” he said in a written statement. “I am honored and accept the Congressional Gold Medal for all the families who have been diagnosed with ALS, as well as anyone struggling to overcome life’s inevitable adversities.”
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