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Former NFL player Steve Gleason fundraising for ALS by auctioning memorabilia signed with Microsoft eye-tracking technology


By Lisa Lacy | n/a

September 29, 2016 | 3 min read

In 2006, New Orleans Saints defensive back Steve Gleason blocked a punt against the Atlanta Falcons in the Saints’ first home game after Hurricane Katrina, giving New Orleans a new symbol of recovery and hope.

Former NFL player Steve Gleason is raising funds for ALS.

Former NFL player Steve Gleason is raising funds for ALS research.

Now, Gleason, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, in 2011, wants to bring recovery and hope to patients like himself. In 2013, he founded a research initiative, the Answer ALS Foundation, and this organization is partnering with agency KBS, as well as the NFL and Microsoft, to launch the Game Changing Auction to raise funds for ALS research.

The live auction includes memorabilia signed by Gleason with what a release called the first-ever robotic arm controlled by eyesight. The prototype uses Microsoft’s Surface Pro Eye-Track Technology, which is the same technology Gleason uses to speak and move his wheelchair, the release said.

In addition, the release noted costs were intentionally kept low – around $400 – to make this a viable option for ALS patients. However, it wasn’t immediately clear when this technology would be available for a wider audience.

The auction will also feature items from other NFL players, including Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Dwight Clark.

In addition, the release said Gleason’s experience signing a jersey with his eyes was filmed at the Superdome in New Orleans and the video and digital assets “will be used to raise awareness for the fundraising campaign, which will run across TV, digital, social and OOH.”

This is not the first time Gleason and Microsoft have worked together. Gleason was also featured in a Microsoft spot for the 2014 Super Bowl.

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