Emotional. Powerful. No-Holds-Barred.

The film Gleason documents the life of Steve Gleason, a popular and successful safety for the New Orleans Saints, following his diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in 2011. Within weeks of his diagnosis Steve and his wife Michel learn they are pregnant. Initially the footage was taken to create a video journal for the Gleason’s son, Rivers, but evolved into an awareness-raising film. For five years the cameras followed the Gleason’s through their journey of becoming parents and adapting to Steve’s increasing needs.

Wow, the power of this story is overwhelming in various ways. Not only is this diagnosis devastating and heart-wrenching, the way in which this family manages and reacts is real, human and inspiring. Michel is a superhero, constantly caring for her husband and son, all while adapting to her new ‘normal’. I am sincerely in awe. Meanwhile, Steve immediately begins his journey as a father and advocate for ALS patients via his video journal and foundation, Team Gleason.

Notable Nuggets:

  • Mortality & Purpose – Life can change in an instant and Steve Gleason is living proof. Throughout the film he works to understand and accept his own mortality, which is coupled with one’s purpose. He focuses on his relationships, being a father and husband, as well as growing his foundation and its advocacy. Simultaneously, Michel takes a slightly different journey and her honesty in the film is admirable. While contemplating these themes I immediately thought of The Travis Roy Foundation, created by our close friend’s cousin. [Tissues should be handy before watching.] Travis is another hero and inspiration.
  • How Do We Act When Things Are Difficult? – The officiant at the Gleason’s wedding asks this question during their wedding ceremony; very unforeseen foreshadowing. What an important question for marriage since challenges and stress are shared with a partner. How will we handle this difficulty together? This amazingly strong couple have found a way to fight challenge everyday. A true inspiration and reminder to keep life in perspective.

*Companion Read: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi