Gleason announces bold plan to end ALS

Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason announced an ambitious new initiative Thursday called Answer ALS, which he described as “the single largest effort to end ALS in the history of the disease.”

Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, has become a world-renowned leader along with his foundation, Team Gleason, in the efforts to treat the disease, raise awareness for it and improve the lives of patients with incurable neuromuscular disorders.

Now, as The Times-Picayune’s Jeff Duncan wrote, Team Gleason is making an even more aggressive push to find a cure and continue to improve the lives of ALS patients, hoping to raise $500 million through private donations over the next five years.

“One thing I've heard time and time again is ALS is not incurable, it's underfunded,” said Gleason, who communicates through a technology that allows him to type words with eye movements and generate a synthetic copy of his own voice. “From where I sit, this is not OK. And where the hundreds of thousands of people around the globe diagnosed with ALS sit, this is not OK.

“Throughout my life, I've learned that with any challenge you must meet it with equal or greater power. As big as ALS is, with enough support and a large-scale, unified collaboration, we believe that ALS can be solved. …

"Muhammad Ali once said, ‘Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in a world they've been given than to explore the power that they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare.’ I am daring capable individuals to change the world we live in. I'm daring the world to step up and help solve ALS.”