This evening in Atlanta, Arthur and Angie Blank hosted a screening of the film Gleason, a documentary highlighting the life and mission of former NFL safety Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. Blank said he and his family have been moved by Gleason's story and felt compelled to get involved in a meaningful way.
Putting people first and giving back to others speaks directly to Arthur Blank's own personal values, but also serve as core values for every associate within the Blank Family of Businesses. Gleason holds the same values and is one of the few athletes to transcend the sport by bringing awareness and compassion to a disease impacting the lives of more than 6,000 people each year.
To that end, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation will donate $100,000 to The Gleason Initiative Foundation in hopes that it will help raise awareness for ALS, inspire others to put people first like Steve is doing as he battles his own disease, and give back when inspired by impactful work. Funds from the donation will be used to help provide innovative communication devices for people with ALS.
"Steve Gleason's story touched me as a father and recent cancer survivor. Stories like his bring into focus what is truly important. His story is about a life that was dramatically changed by a disease, and how he has courageously chosen to face it" said Blank. "It's about family and what is most important in life – more important than any game, any play or any rivalry ever will be."
Gleason is known for the 2006 blocked punt against Blank's Atlanta Falcons that was recovered for a touchdown during the first game back in the Superdome post Hurricane Katrina. The Saints and Falcons have enjoyed the divisional rivalry for over 40 years, but Steve Gleason has transcended the rivalry. Known as a "one-man catalyst for a global movement around ALS," Gleason has made it his mission to raise awareness of the disease and ALS research and his documentary, GLEASON, has transcended the sport and heralded support from leaders in every sector - music, technology, media and beyond.
Last year, Gleason and Team Gleason successfully pushed for the passage of the Steve Gleason Act, which ensures full access to eye-tracking and speech-generating devices through Medicare. The Gleason Initiative Foundation has disbursed about $2.4 million in devices and training to date.
Members of the ALS community and the film's directors were in attendance for the screening. To get involved or for more information about the film, visit: www.gleasonmovie.com.