That is a picture of the Gleason family consisting of Michel Varisco, her husband Steve Gleason and their son Rivers Gleason. In 2011 Gleason, a former NFL player for the New Orleans Saints was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A couple of months later they discovered that Varisco was pregnant. Those two developments changed the course and quality of life for Varisco and Gleason. They both took an active approach to find solutions to deal with Gleason’s ALS.
We get a peek into how they dealt with in a new documentary called Gleason. The film makes you cry and laugh as you witness how ALS slowly and steadily incapacitates Gleason. He goes from being a fit and healthy young man to one, who loses his mobility and has to use a wheel chair to get around. He now requires round-the-clock help. Gleason eventually lost his the ability to eat through his mouth or speak as Varisco puts it in our interview. He can only communicate through his eyes and uses a Microsoft Surface pro for that purpose.
LISTEN: MICHELE VARISCO ON GLEASON, A DOCUMENTARY ON FORMER NFL PLAYER STEVE GLEASON
We spoke with Varisco about the film and how she found the courage to deal with her husband’s ALS. What was their goal in making Gleason since we get to saw very private side of their family. The film has some pretty raw and heart wrenching scenes on how the family deals with the everyday challenges of living with ALS. One of the goals of the film is to create awareness about ALS points out Varisco. The film does succeed in creating that awareness.
Gleason releases in the San Francisco Bay area on July 29, 2016.
Former NFL player Scott Fujita is one of the producers of Gleason, a documentary on Steve Gleason, who has myotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Fujita and Gleason became good friends when they played for the New Orleans Saints. Fujita shares how one of his uncles lost his life to ALS and was aware of the challenges the disease posed to families.
Gleason is not just about creating awareness on ALS points out Fujita in our interview. It also shows how Gleason’s family led by his wife Michele Varisco is involved in the 24/7 caretaking efforts of Gleason. The film also underscores the relationship between father and son adds Fujita.
In 2011 Gleason was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Instead of shying away from the diagnosis Gleason and his wife Variscoadopted a pro-active approach. One of the first things that Gleason did was to start producing video diaries for his then unborn son. Those videos became the basis of this poignant, touching and brave documentary that shows how Gleason, his wife and their family worked to find solutions for their everyday existence. This doucmentary makes you both cry and laugh and gives you an inkling of what it is to live with ALS.
LISTEN: SCOTT FUJITA ON GLEASON’S DOCUMENTARY
We spoke with Fujita about the film, and his friendship with Gleason, whom he first saw doing yoga in New Orleans during their exercise session. While Fujita and his team mates were lifting weights, a long-haired Gleason was doing yoga. He knew right then that Gleason and he would become good friends shares Fujita. A couple of years ago Fujita along with Gleason and his family trekked to Machu Pichu in Peru. And Fujita famously signed a one day contract with New Orleans Saints and announced his retirement from Machu Pichu.
Fujita is part of Team Gleason ,whose mission is to provide technological solutions for ALS patients and to create awareness around the disease.
Gleason is releasing on July 27, 2017 in San Francisco Bay area.