You’re probably more than aware that we’re at the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a disaster—in more than one sense of the word—the likes of which our country hasn’t seen in a long, long time. President Obama has been down in New Orleans for this monumental week, during which time he visited with former Saints safety Steve Gleason.
Gleason, who has ALS, provided Saints fans with one of the most memorable moments in franchise history when he blocked a punt against the Falcons on Sept. 25, 2006—the first home game in the re-opened Superdome following Katrina. Earlier this week, Gleason penned a personal letter to the city of New Orleans that crossed his battle with ALS to the city’s fight to rebuild.
According to a piece by Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, Obama called the play “one of the most iconic plays in sports history.” As Triplett notes, there’s some history between Obama and Gleason that goes back before the POTUS’ trip to New Orleans:
Gleason has become a champion for those suffering from ALS and other neuromuscular diseases since being diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Last month, Obama signed the Steve Gleason Act into law, which will help make critical technology available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid.
“It was a moment,” said Team Gleason’s Clare Durrett. “ALS has been swept under the rug for decades. It was powerful to see someone living, despite ALS and maybe because of it, asked to ‘Come backstage … the president wants to meet you.’
“Steve deserved it. He’s been fighting every day to show the world he and everyone with this brutal disease want to live. ALS did a metaphorical high-five today.”
Additionally, Air Force One could be seen flying over the Saints’ practice before landing.
It’s already been an emotional week for the city and all those still affected by Katrina 10 years later. Hopefully, marking such a tragic time in our country aids in the moving forward process—in whatever form that can be achieved.