SATURDAY, MARCH 19, 2016
March 19th is a special day to me, because it is the birthday of two of my favorite people. My Grandmother Ilona Jackson, and my inspiration Steve Gleason.
Before we lost her in 2011, Grandma Jackson was the proud and loving matriarch of the Jacksons, and as crazy as we all are she loved us each with every fiber of her being.
Personally, she and I had a very special relationship, and I miss her every time I have a good day that I can’t share with her, and every time I have a bad day that she can’t help me through. Our family is simply not the same without her.
Steve Gleason is my brother from another mother, and one of the most brave people I know. A former NFL football player, Steve first got a bit of national fame by blocking the first punt, on the first drive, of the first game back in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, the moment is popularly known as "rebirth". The Saints would go on to be Superbowl champions that year, and gave a devastated city something to feel good about.
I few years back Steve was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that removes a persons ability to walk, talk, speak, eat, and breathe before ultimately taking ones life. There is no cure for ALS, and it has a 100% mortality rate.
Steve could have easily taken this shot to the chin and stayed down for the count.... but he did not. He decided to dedicate his life to helping others find a cure and live out their dreams by starting the Team Gleason foundation. I wanted to take my dad and family to the big showdown between Michigan and Alabama in Dallas. Steve not only made that happen for us, but he put us in the first row with tickets that had a face value of more than $20,000. He has done the same thing for hundreds of other people. As if that was not enough, this budding national celebrity that was appearing on Superbowl ads with Bill Gates took it upon himself to send me personally an email about every two weeks or so to check on me. Very personal notes asking me how we were doing, this was awesome, and made such an impact on me personally that he took the time to check on me, despite him going through his own life changing challenges. To quote Steve “awesome ain’t easy” but he truly is awesome.
Happy birthday Steve and Grandma! You guys are amazing, and I love you both!