This year's Gleason Gras celebrates historic play, fighting spirit

This year's Gleason Gras celebrates historic play, fighting spirit

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Gleason Gras is a festival that bears Steve Gleason's name, so it only makes sense that the set-up crews are going all out, pushing hard in the 90-degree heat to get the job done.

After all, that's the way Gleason played, and that's the way he lives.

Gleason Gras, set for Saturday, happens exactly one day before the 10-year anniversary of a game and a play forever etched on the collective soul of New Orleans. No matter how many times we watch Gleason's punt block, the goosebumps never seem to fade. In those brief seconds of the first Monday night football game in a rehabbed Superdome, the healing from Katrina's scars began.

The Saints play the same team in the same place this coming Monday night, circumstances that stand front and center in the festival's sixth year.

Monday night Saints versus Falcons, 10-year anniversary of the blocked punt, we're very excited," said Blair Casey. "Steve will be there participating in the game, and we couldn't be prouder of him."

Casey is one of Steve Gleason's closest friends, and has helped take care of him after Gleason was diagnosed with ALS. The festival Saturday, like in years past, will celebrate Gleason's spirit and his efforts on behalf of others fighting the same battle.

The event begins with a 3.7-mile run a distance to commemorate Gleason's number, 37.

"Then we have the festival right after with Bag of Donuts, Paul Briscoe and the Milestones, Alexis and the Samurai, Bonerama, Hot 8 Brass Band, Trey G. Super Saint," Casey said. "We'll have appearances from people like Sean Payton, Drew Brees - so we're fortunate to have such great love from the city."

This will be the second year that Gleason Gras will be at St. Margaret's. On Saturday, 5,000 people are expected to pack the parking lot, and that number is a conservative estimate.

All proceeds from Gleason Gras will go help people in the fight against ALS.

With a recent documentary film shedding light on Gleason's story and the anniversary of the block on the minds of many fans, Casey expects a powerful event.

"Steve has had such a positive outlook on life, before ALS, with ALS - and that's something he instilled in everyone around him," Casey said.

Celebrating the man and his mission of healing, a man who first helped bring this city back, with a single block.

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