Posts Tagged ‘Gleason’

I received this today via Facebook.  Naturally I shared it.

Dear Friend, I am writing this personal letter to you and no one else. ( Your name here), we have been friends for ( Insert correct time frame) and I feel like we have a connection and friendship that allows me to write this very personal appeaImagel. I am writing in regards to Steve Gleason. Much has been said about Steve and his battle with ALS but I would like to present a different angle to the story and with your help ( Your name) explain how we can make a difference for Steve and his family. First some context, Steve was older than me by two years and a pretty great athlete, there are so few of us. I remember watching him on the gridiron at Gonzaga Prep and thinking wow, I could do that.  I was wrong. I couldn’t.  I marveled as I saw him fly around the field in the Palouse as a part of  the greatest run in Wazzu football history. I took pride in his determination in winning a roll with the Saints in the NFL, “against all odds”  to quote Phil Collins. By the way, how many personal letters such as this do you get with a genuine Phil Collins quote?  You see I took pride in what Steve did because he was one of us. He was a nice guy, he walked the same halls I did and he seemed to care for people. As his career took off he never forgot where he came from and more importantly who had inspired him along the way. In 2002 I believe, Steve threw out the first pitch here at Safeco Field. When I saw him on the field he was quick to say ” Hello Greg!” Wow, he remembered me. I was a sophomore when he was a senior and he still knew me after all these years. Let’s not dwell on the fact that my name isn’t Greg.

Most of you know that I am an outstanding and innovative football coach at Seattle Prep. Some of us are just blessed with both good looks and brains. Last year we faced our rival, O’Dea, a team we haven’t beaten in over 30 years and lost on the goal line going for two by a foot. 21-20 was the final score and to look into the eyes of our players after the game was really gut wrenching. These kids had left it all on the field and still came up just a fraction short. I struggled to find the right words to say because while the kids were heartbroken, I was so proud of them. It was Steve’s words that came to me and that I shared with the team. Max Manix, who was a marginal but slightly affective QB for the Pups in 2006, gave me a letter Steve wrote to the Bullpups before the ’06 semi final game. In it Steve talked about what it means to be a team and to have teammates. The point of it was this, in all his time from junior ball to the NFL the thing that mattered most to him was being a part of an entity bigger then himself. To be able to fully sacrifice for the betterment of those around you is what matters years after the final whistle. The term hero or heroic gets thrown around all the time in sports endeavors. I have been in sports all my life and there is nothing heroic about the games.

Gleason as a Cougar

Not in the true sense of the term. Steve did nothing heroic on the playing field. He competed, he thrived and he excelled. What is heroic about Steve is that he is battling ALS and so much of his attention and precious time is dedicated to making lives better in the future for those who will suffer after him. That’s heroic. How many of us could do the same? So here we are. A teammate, a friend is battling for something far greater then a win. He has walked the same hallways we have, studied in the same classrooms and shared the same life experiences as us. He is one of us and he is in need. Will you act? Will you help? If you won’t contribute to Steve, what will you contribute to? Is there a better, more worthy cause? If so, what is it? On May 12th, at Safeco Field we will hold an event in honor of Steve. We will raise money not for Team Gleason but for Steve and his family to help secure their future. It’s time for his teammates to step up and carry him just like he did for us for all these years.  Below is a link to register for the event. Please be a part of it. Dig deep and really reflect. This is a person who has been a part of our community who needs us. It’s not money being sent to a grand cause but will directly impact our friend. If not this cause, what? Some of you receiving this from me may not know Steve personally. Find his story and he will inspire you. I have added you to this because you hold a special place in my life and if it was me I believe you would be a person of action. As you go home tonight look in the eyes of your spouse and perhaps pick up your child and hold them. We are all so lucky to have loved ones in our life, to be able to hug and tell them we love them. Now take a second to realize that Steve no longer has the strength to do what you take for granted. You have time, imagine if you didn’t. Again Steve teaches us to live each day to the fullest. Can you not take one day for him? I challenge you to be a part of this event and ask that you pass this on to others. Let’s do this!




Yours in guilt, Garrett Cook ’97


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A Boy from Spokane

I don’t know why the story of Steve Gleason resonates with me.  Gleason, as you might have heard, is the New Orleans Saint recently diagnosed with ALS, a neuro-muscular disease that affects professional athletes at rates higher than the general population.  ALS is also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” for the famous baseball player who had it.

Steve Gleason was born in Spokane, where I attended high school, in 1977, the year I graduated and began college.  In general, when I hear ‘boy from Spokane” I automatically translate that phrase into an unflattering portrait.  I lived there from the ages of 14 to 21, and can sadly not relay many uplifting stories about any boys from Spokane.  I tried, and I failed.

Steve Gleason went on to play football at Washington State, my husband’s alma mater.  More important, he played there during the 1997 season, the year the Cougars beat UCLA in the home season opener, the year the Cougars beat USC in LA.  The year we romped through Husky Stadium, when Lamont Thompson intercepted Brock Huard three times and Ryan Leaf and Michael Black and Leon Bender and Chris Jackson and a host of other players performed feats of athleticism not seen before or since.  The year the Cougars went ten and one in the regular season, and took thousands and thousands of grateful, long-suffering fans to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.  Whenever I hear the name of a player from that season, I feel a sense of obligation, of debt.  Even if he’s a boy from Spokane.


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