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Western Illinois teams up with football foe to fight ALS

Western Illinois teams up with football foe to fight ALS
The helmets Western Illinois and Missouri State wear Saturday will feature "No White Flags" stickers to raise money and awareness in the fight against ALS. (Photo courtesy of GoLeathernecks.com)

According to Western Illinois head football coach Charlie Fisher, he and Missouri State coach Dave Steckel are just “a couple of Pennsylvania guys” who love the game.

The two friends, whose teams face off Saturday on the field, are teaming up for a good cause this week.

The Leathernecks and Bears are working with Team Gleason and The Gleason Initiative Foundation to raise money to fight ALS, which has notably stricken late baseball legend Lou Gehrig and Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints player.

Fisher and Steckel each have donated $1,000 and are encouraging their teams’ fans to donate online here. The total fundraising goal is $20,000.

“Every day, 15 people are diagnosed with ALS,” Fisher said. “We must find a cure. Most everyone knows someone affected by this insidious disease. It knows no boundaries in regards to age, gender or race.”

During Saturday’s game at Hanson Field in Macomb, both teams will wear “No White Flags” helmet stickers honoring Gleason’s foundation.

Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. He played for New Orleans from 2000-2008 and famously blocked a punt on the first night the Louisiana Superdome reopened after Hurricane Katrina. Outside the stadium, the Saints erected a statue of Gleason’s memorable play.

The goals of Saturday’s fundraiser are to provide people with neuromuscular diseases or injuries the best technology, equipment and services, to create a global conversation about ALS and to raise public awareness.

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