ALS patient, former NFL star and Spokane native Steve Gleason turns 40 on March 19. To celebrate his amazing life and inspirational example KREM 2 Anchor Jane McCarthy and KREM 2 News Director Noah Cooper combined to come up with 40 ways Steve has changed their lives.
1. Jane: Appreciate each day. Because of Steve, I've gotten to know some wonderful local ALS patients who helped remind me each day is a gift.
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2. Noah: In less than 30 seconds I can explain why ALS is underfunded and with more funding researchers can come up with ways to slow its progression, eventually coming up with a cure.
3. Jane: If you're not failing, you're not living. On that note, I must really have been living when I tried doing pull-ups at the gym.
4. Noah: If I ever compete in a third Ironman triathlon to raise money for Team Gleason, I will do it wearing an astronaut diaper (pretty sure additional detail is unwelcome).
5. Jane: Being part of a cause not only helps others, it allows you to branch out and cross paths with new people.
6. Noah: By watching Steve type with his eyes faster than I can type with my hands, I now know how technology can serve as a temporary cure for ALS patients to communicate until a real cure is found.
7. Jane: "Awesome ain't easy." It's one of Steve's mottos that reminds me if I want to improve any part of my life, I have to put in the work.
8. Noah: I overcame my fear of swimming by relying on Steve’s inspiration to get me through a 2.4 mile open water Ironman swim with 2,000 other athletes swinging their fists and feet at me.
9. Jane: The impossible is possible: Steve was told he was too small to make it in the NFL. He went on to play 8 seasons to become one of the New Orleans Saint's most beloved players.
10. Noah: I believed for a moment I would get an NFL tryout. The former player personnel director for the New Orleans Saints once called me. Not for a tryout, but to talk about his good friend, Steve. For a second, I thought I would be playing on Sundays.
11. Jane: I've learned that I never want to try and do an Ironman Triathlon.
12. Noah: For four years I got to eat as much as I wanted whenever I wanted. Training for Ironman has its benefits. Note: this doesn’t work when not training for Ironman.
13. Jane: One person can impact a lot of lives.
14. Noah: The mention of Steve’s name around strangers immediately makes me their friend.
15. Jane: Steve and his wife Michel remind me laughter -- and a sense of humor -- is crucial in the darkest times.
16. Noah: Humor motivates and sustains. Steve’s tweets prove this daily.
17. Jane: Steve's mom, Gail, once told me this: There are ALS patients around you -- and others who are struggling -- who don't have the kind of love and support Steve has, so reach out to them. Be a blessing to them. Don't be afraid of what you see. Don't be afraid of the hard part of it. Go be a friend to somebody.
18. Noah: I met Gail Gleason. She exudes passion, compassion and grace. I was instantly a better person five minutes into a conversation with her.
19. Jane: I've learned that when I ask Steve a question in an interview I can expect him to smile and mention poop in at least one of his answers.
20. Noah: I swim for exercise now, rather than as a way to keep from drowning.
21. Jane: "Exhaust yourself in the mission". Steve proves focused effort is rewarded.
22. Noah: Pearl Jam and Lord Huron. PJ’s “Given to Fly” and “Breathe” are in every playlist now. I never would have found Lord Huron without Steve’s introduction. Try to listen to “Ends of the Earth” and not think about Blair Casey and Scott Fujita carrying Steve up Machu Picchu.
23. Jane: "No White Flags" is more than a motto, it's a fantastic way of life.
24. Noah: I have a strong dislike for pale, bleached or chalky flags. #NoWhiteFlags
25. Jane: The importance of love. Sounds simple, right? We're all racing around. Make sure to take time to stop to focus on and appreciate those you love.
26. Noah: Recognizing my blessings every day. I see this recognition in Steve’s eyes when he looks at Rivers and Michel.
27. Jane: I've learned ALS is a particularly cruel disease.
28. Noah: Because of Steve, I met John Oakley. John was a Spokane middle school teacher and coach who was the exact person you wanted to set an example for your kids. ALS took him from us in October. This has to stop.
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29. Jane: You can still find joy in seemingly hopeless times. Steve Gleason can no longer move his body, but he finds a way to live life differently... and with joy.
30. Noah: I crafted for the first time since 4th grade. I failed it back then. I haven’t improved, but I painted/crafted a picture frame to help ALS patients. It’s not pretty, but neither is the battle against ALS.
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31. Jane: The human spirit is strong enough to overcome adversity in the face of impossible odds.
32. Noah: When faced with the real possibility of my body failing during the marathon of the Ironman course, Steve’s inspirational example pushed me to the finish.
33. Jane: All of us go through some tough stuff in our lives; Steve has taught me that in the midst of darkness we can find some peace if we make sure to search for that light.
34. Noah: I have a new found appreciation of the moon from Steve’s consistent admiration of it.
Hey. Go outside. The Moon. The Mooooooooooon! It's super.— Steve Gleason (@TeamGleason) November 15, 2016
- SG pic.twitter.com/3AawqROY9Z
35. Jane: Optimism is contagious. Steve continues to smile making those around him smile too.
36. Noah: I never considered hair nets until this. The best.
37. Jane: Steve once said, "In the midst of adversity, we will find our greatest opportunities." Let's all put that quote in our pocket and read it when we need it most.
38. Noah: I learned you have to at least get a hand on the fast, long-haired guy coming up the middle or he’s going to make your punter look bad as a statue outside the Superdome forever.
39. Jane: "Exhaust yourself in the mission". Steve proves focused effort is rewarded.
40. Noah: Hope. It’s always there in Steve’s daily example. Impossible to ignore. Tough not to follow.
KREM 2 Anchor Jane McCarthy and KREM 2 News Director Noah Cooper have featured Steve Gleason’s amazing story of inspiration and hope in his battle against ALS since 2011 with dozens of stories in KREM newscasts and posts on KREM.com. Over the last six years Steve and his wife, Michel, have honored them with access to their video journals, their time for interviews and their constant support in helping Team Gleason raise awareness about ALS, improve the lives of ALS patients and raise money for a cure.
Jane’s award winning Project Inspire series has brought Steve’s inspiration to thousands. Her stories have shown how improving technology and care can make the difference in an ALS patient fading away within months of a devastating terminal ALS diagnosis and living impactful, inspirational lives.
Despite six major knee surgeries and a major fear of swimming, Noah finished the Ironman Coeur d’Alene triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) in 2014 and 2016 as a fundraiser for the Gleason Initiative Foundation, Steve’s nonprofit to help ALS patients and their families. Jane turned his Ironman races into TV specials about raising ALS awareness. Noah is still sore from the last race.