NOLA.com October 4th 2015
Despite overcast skies, Gleason Gras Festival and Race 2015 was up and running Saturday (Oct. 3), when runners kicked off the festival with a race along Bayou St. John.
Gleason Gras, now in its fifth year, was hosted by What You Give Will Grow inspired by Thomas Morstead, Team Gleason, and Steve Gleason. Gleason Gras was also at a new location: At Team Gleason House at St. Margaret’s in Mid-City, where a crowd of all ages filled the area to enjoy interactive activities, food, and music from Paul Varisco and the Milestones, Tysson, Flow Tribe, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, with a finale by Better Than Ezra (who were in town to play two other benefit shows: Sean Payton’s Play It Forward Black & Gold Gala, and their own Tailgate Party). The 610 Stompers also showed off their smooth moves.
While a silent auction raised even more money, it was the live auction – in the VIP tent and outside – where New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, joined at various times by Fox Sports 1 analyst (and former Saints player) Scott Fujita, Team Gleason’s Blair Casey, and restaurateur Greg Reggio, inspired the audience to bid high and often on jerseys, helmets, (even Brees’ football uniform pants), footballs, and a guitar autographed by Brees, Gleason, Fujita, Morstead, even former Saints coach Jim Mora, who attended. Other items included a dinner at Borgne restaurant; a chance to practice kicking with Morstead; a tour of the Saints facility, to which Reggio added additional VIP festival passes if the bidding reached $2,000 (It did); and the on-site painting Frenchy was creating.
The family of Ivan Miestchovich, a business professor at University of New Orleans, came onstage to thank Team Gleason and Brees for their efforts: Because Miestchovich had ALS, and his home in Ponchatoula home needed a continuous power source in case the electricity went out, Team Gleason purchased a generator. Team Gleason’s Casey was leading the fundraising efforts for a van for the family when Miestchovich died Sept. 26.
In addition to raising awareness about ALS, (amyothrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurological disease), Gleason Gras raises funds for research for developing technology to help those with ALS, as well as finding a cure.