NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Steve Gleason, a New Orleans hero since he blocked a punt for the first touchdown in the Saints' first home game after Hurricane Katrina, says that until there's a cure for his paralyzing disease, technology is the cure.
Gleason, a former special teams standout who now gets around in a powered wheelchair, showed off some of that technology Thursday at a residence he's creating for up to 18 people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis, another disease that progressively damages the nervous system.
A computerized system in the Team Gleason House lets someone control lights, doors, window shades, televisions, and room temperature by moving a hand or with head, eyes, or breath.
Work is still being done at the residence, which will make up the first floor of a 116-bed skilled nursing facility being developed by the St. Margaret's Daughters order in a mid-city hospital abandoned after the floods of Hurricane Katrina.
Chase gave Gleason's foundation, Team Gleason, $350,000 to install the system made by Promixis LLC of Jupiter, Fla.
The Team Gleason House at St. Margaret's is the second home in the country for ALS and MS patients. The other is at the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, Mass. It's expected to take its first residents in spring, said Greg Hassell, spokesman for Chase.
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal condition that causes gradual paralysis, in January 2011, and went public with it in September 2011 — five years to the day after that post-Katrina touchdown and only weeks before his son Rivers was born. He had completed his master's in business administration at Tulane.
In November 2012, he lost consciousness at the Superdome while watching a football game and was taken to an emergency room.