|For football fans in New Orleans, former Saints player Steve Gleason has long been a hero. But in the years since his retirement, Gleason's work off the field has continued to inspire not only Saints fans, but thousands of others.
On Sunday, February 24, members of Team Gleason will gather at the start line of the fourth annual Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon & Half Marathon. The organization will participate as an official charity of the race, fundraising and raising awareness for Lou Gehrigs disease, or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
Gleason was diagnosed with the incurable disease at just 34 years old. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord and affects muscle function. Despite facing his own struggles, he founded Team Gleason in 2011, shortly after his diagnosis.
Our mission is to make a difference for people living with neuromuscular diseases and raise awareness, but we also want to show them that they can thrive and accomplish things they never thought possible. Steve is living proof of that, said Michel Gleason, Steve's wife. Participating in this 13.1 or 26.2 mile journey is an inspiring way to make a difference and we welcome runners to join the Team Gleason Endurance Challenge at the start line in New Orleans.
Team Gleason Endurance Challenge participants will pledge to raise a minimum of $500 that will benefit the Gleason Initiative Foundation and will receive free race entry, a Team Gleason race jersey and entry into an exclusive post-race dinner. They will also receive a training plan and support from a coach. To sign up, visit www.teamgleason.org or http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/new-orleans/charity.
"Steve's determination and drive to fight back against this disease is awe-inspiring and we are honored to support Team Gleason in their mission to change the future for ALS patients and their families," said Malain McCormick, Event Director. "There is nothing more motivating than knowing you are contributing to a cause greater than yourself and our participants have shown that running can be an inspiring platform to take action."
The 2013 race will once again start on Poydras Street, where Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, a member of Team Gleason, will perform the national anthem. The course will take more than 18,000 runners along beautiful and historic St. Charles Avenue, running out and back before touring the iconic French Quarter and City Park. Marathon runners will tour scenic miles along Lakeshore Drive and breathtaking views of Lake Pontchartrain, and both races will finish on Roosevelt Mall behind the New Orleans Museum of Art, where the Dirty Dozen Brass Band will kick off the post-race party. A two-person half-marathon relay is also available.
Kids have the chance to get fit and have fun at ING KiDS ROCK New Orleans on Saturday, February 23. The non-timed, non-competitive fun run for kids in grades K-7 will take place in City Park and all participants receive a T-shirt, goodie bag and finishers medal. Registration and more information can be found online at INGKiDSROCK.com.
Race weekend will kick off with the Health & Fitness Expo at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. The expo is free and open to the public on Friday, February 22, and Saturday, February 23. More than 60 exhibitors and retailers will feature the latest health and nutrition information with a variety of products for sale and sample as well as free fitness related clinics.
For more information on the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon & Half Marathon, please visit http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/new-orleans.