Gleason receives Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award

JACOB MOORE | Evergreen sports editor 

Cougar alumnus and former American football player Steve Gleason was presented with the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award last month.

Once Gleason was given the chance to speak, the crowd welcomed him with an extensive applause. He immediately had those in attendance laughing.

“I’ll have to admit, until just a few weeks ago, I thought regents was a cafeteria,” he said through his technology on Aug. 10.

Keeping his speech short, Gleason ended by thanking family and friends, like former Cougar football head coach Mike Price. He specifically remembered one thing, from when he played for Price, which sums up what he believes being a Cougar is all about.

“I’m interested in what you can do for other people that can’t do anything for you in return,” Gleason said.

Gleason was a four-year letter winner for the WSU baseball and football teams.

More famously, Gleason is known for his documented battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), informally known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He started the Team Gleason foundation with the help of his friends and family, which has benefited many by raising public awareness and money for treatments.

Students in WSU’s sport management program often create a fundraiser or silent auction in their event management class to generate funds for Team Gleason each year.

One speaker said that while most people dream about doing something, Gleason just does it. He reiterated the point that Gleason is a game-changer on and off the field.

Top-of-the-line technology has helped Gleason communicate his message that there will be, “no white flags.” In this, Gleason’s determination has been an inspiration to many.

Due to the viral Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, Team Gleason raised nearly $1 million, according to its website. In over a year since the start of the challenge, Team Gleason donated over $1.8 million worth of technology and equipment. However, the foundation ultimately hopes a cure will be found.

The regents award one alumnus or alumna each year for distinguished work that touches the world. They must examine a lengthy list of candidates and make the tough decision of choosing one. Some past recipients include astronaut John Fabian and broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow.

By the end of the award ceremony, the entire crowd was standing and cheering the WSU fight song in honor of Gleason.