Loyola University Welcomes Gleason In Honor Of Disability Awareness Month With ‘No White Flags!’

Steve Gleason

NEW ORLEANS – October is National Disability Awareness Month, and Loyola University New Orleans will host a series of events focused on creating awareness of the challenges posed by physical, emotional, and social disabilities. Disability Awareness Month is about promoting inclusion and sparking conversation about what more we can do for those with disabilities. Loyola will be hosting former New Orleans Saints Steve Gleason as keynote speaker to address the community about his fight with ALS and his “No White Flags” approach.

         Gleason, who received an honorary doctorate from Loyola in May 2014, will lead a talk titled “No White Flags: A Story of Disability and Perseverance” that runs from 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16, in Nunemaker Auditorium, Monroe Hall, third floor at Loyola, 6363 St. Charles Ave.

         The event hosted by the Pan-American Student Success Center and sponsored by an anonymous donor is free and open to the public and will include a 45-minute speech, followed by 15 minutes of Q & A and a reception.

          Guests are asked to RSVP to pmurret@loyno.edu if special accommodations are needed.

         “The goal of this month is to educate the public about disability issues and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities,” said Brad Petitfils, senior director of Institutional Research and Student Success at Loyola. “A disability is a not a barrier, it’s a challenge. Some challenges are visible and some are not. Some challenges are occasional and some are constant. All demand a struggle to overcome. At Loyola, we want to recognize those who overcome. We want you to know that whatever challenge you must confront, whatever struggle you take head on, we are with you. Loyola is more than buildings, books, and church bells. It is a community, and we face challenges together.”

         Gleason played for the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2008. As a counterculture athlete who spent his off-season adventuring in third-world countries, he will always be remembered for his blocked punt on the night the Louisiana Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina.

         In January, 2011 Steve was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, considered a terminal neuromuscular disease. Beyond his faith that there is a solution to heal, it is his mission to show that patients can not only live but thrive after this diagnosis. In doing so, he hopes to inspire others to do the same. With that in mind, Steve and his wife, Michel, formed “Team Gleason” to help him accomplish these goals and more.

         Through Steve and Michel Gleason’s inspiration and tireless work, Team Gleason has helped hundreds of people with ALS experience adventures they never thought possible after their diagnosis, organizers said. The couple were at the center of the recently released documentary, “Gleason,” which was heralded at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered across the country to equally impressive reviews. Variety called the production “an emotional powerhouse” and reviews continue to echo that sentiment as the award-winning film becomes widely available.

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