Being disabled is a new experience for us Gleason boys. We’re about 5 months into it and when I say “we” what I mean is this: My brother Steve is losing his ability to walk as his ALS symptoms progress. Before ALS began destroying my brothers body and I had to start caretaking him I never paid much attention to things like wheelchair ramps and signs that said “disability services”. Sure Everyone recognizes the ubiquitous white and blue handicapped parking signs and you may have even parked there a time or two because you were in a hurry. The probability that someone needs that spot while you’re running your ever important errand is very slim, right? Well, usually, yes.
Now that I have a disabled person in my life I am so grateful that those signs exist. I also love elevators, wheel chairs, walkers, canes, and everything else out there that helps me get my brother out into the world he loves so much. Disability services are an example of social consciousness that makes me think this world is actually getting to be a better place.
I was a hard man before my brother got sick. I believed in virtues like strength and toughness. I prided myself on my level of independence, even though it sometimes alienated me from the world around me. As my brothers body has softened with ALS, so has my heart. What blows me away is that there are people out there that just want to help because they can, not because their brother has a terminal disease.
This weekend I met dozens of those people while my brother and I took two other ALS patients to the super bowl.
We were whisked through the city, down ramps, up elevators, and on carts, we even rode on a short bus, and at every turn a beautiful citizen from the city of Indianapolis was there to greet us, and help us on our way. It was the most amazing weekend of my life and it gave me hope that if we can produce an event as complex as the super bowl and make it so user friendly that I can easily wheel my brother through a crowd of 70,000 people then maybe we can cure ALS. Thank you Indianapolis for giving me hope.