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.