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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gleason benefit returns to ski resort

Former football star Steve Gleason “always wanted to inspire people,” says his stepmother, Jackie.

A little perspiration is good too, Jackie reasoned. For the third straight year, she and other family members are putting on the Team Gleason Peak Trail Run and Music Festival, a fundraiser for ALS support and research.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 1 in National Forest land near the 49 Degrees North ski area. Participants can run a half-marathon or a 3.5-mile run; music will follow at the ski resort.

As awareness of ALS has grown, so has the event – from 80 participants in 2013 to 100 last year; more are expected this year.

Proceeds will support Team Gleason and the Gleason Initiative Foundation, whose short-term mission is to help provide support for individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries.

The long-term goal is to create a global conversation about ALS and find a cure.

“A lot of it is creating an awareness of ALS,” said Jackie Gleason, adding that the group recently provided a wheelchair for an ALS sufferer who lives near her in northwest Spokane.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. Steve Gleason, a star linebacker at Gonzaga Prep, Washington State and the New Orleans Saints, was diagnosed with the disease in 2011.

Steve attempted to attend the first trail run, but got sick before the event. Jackie added that Steve won’t be able to attend this year.

Jackie said the trail run is “fun and inspirational.”

The trails are populated by huckleberries and wildlife, but runners will be supported on the course with water and snacks.

After the run, a raffle will include signed pictures of Steve, who played eight seasons with the Saints.