Carmel Magazine

CM Nov 1, 2016 Barrymore HO16_DigitalEdition

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Page 139 of 219

Tackling the Next Chapter "Gleason" Documentar y Inspires and Educates B Y R E N E E B R I N C K S M y number one focus and purpose is to share with you who I am, and to give you as much of myself as I possibly can, while I can. And I'm excited." As the documentar y "Gleason" opens, retired professional football player Steve Gleason leans toward the camera and speaks to his then-unborn child. His wife, Michel Rae Varisco, is pregnant. That news has come just six weeks after doctors diag- nosed Gleason with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a degenerative disorder that leads to paralysis but typically leaves the mind intact. Now, before his health deteriorates, the former New Orleans Saint is recording video diaries for his child. For the next 110 minutes, filmmakers follow Gleason, Varisco and their family through unbelievably hear tbreaking physical and emotional developments triggered by his disease—and through unexpectedly hopeful moments of love, light and laughter. Carmel Valley resident Scott Fujita, Gleason's close friend and former teammate, worked on the "Gleason" production team. The Southern California native played football in Kansas City and Dallas before signing with the Saints, and he was on the field for the team's first game back in the Louisiana Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. Early in that 2006 matchup, Fujita forced a fumble by sacking Atlanta Falcons quar terback Michael Vick. On the next play, Steve Gleason blocked a punt attempt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. The Saints went on to beat their division rivals by 20 points. " 138 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • H O L I D A Y 2 0 1 6

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