WSU great Steve Gleason is a candidate for the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a U.S. civilian

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Former Washington State and New Orleans Saints football star Steve Gleason is being considered for a Congressional Gold Medal, the U.S. Senate announced Thursday.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow on any civilian. Democratic Washington state Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate and the House Thursday to award Gleason a Congressional Gold Medal for his work as an advocate for people suffering from neuromuscular diseases such as ALS.

Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2011, and has been living with the condition since. Through his nonprofit, the Gleason Initiative Foundation, he has helped develop technology to improve the quality of life of people suffering from ALS.

“Few people make Washington state as proud as Steve Gleason, a Spokane native and WSU standout who not only excelled on the field, but who has gone on to make his biggest impact as a tireless advocate in the health world,” Murray said in a news release. “Together with his wife, mother, and everyone at their foundation, Steve has changed countless lives for the better and this legislation symbolizes the strong support Steve and Team Gleason have in the United States Congress.”

Before a medal can be awarded, the bill needs to pass through the House and Senate, and be signed by the president.

The list of previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal includes Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, Bob Hope, Walt Disney, Sir Winston Churchill, John Wayne, the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic Team, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Frank Sinatra, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and Arnold Palmer.

Gleason played football and baseball at WSU from 1996-99, and was a two-time captain of the football team. He played safety for the New Orleans Saints from 2000-07.