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Q&A

Rock for a Cause Steve Gleason reflects on the history of Gleason Fest, recent advancements in ALS research, and the bands he’d most love to book BY NATHAN WEINBENDER

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teve Gleason doesn’t need much of an introduction these days. The Spokane native and former NFL star was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in 2011, and has since become a tireless advocate for those living with the disease. Amongst the charities that Gleason has founded is his very own music festival/fundraiser, appropriately called Gleason Fest, which brings a lineup of well-known regional bands — including Portland’s the Dandy Warhols and Seattle’s the Grizzled Mighty — to Riverfront Park this weekend. Gleason spoke to the Inlander via email in the week leading up to his namesake festival, reflecting on the history of the event, some recent advancements in ALS research, and what this year’s music lineup

means to him. Responses have been edited for clarity. INLANDER: In what significant ways has Gleason Fest evolved since 2012, and what separates it from other music festivals? GLEASON: What started as a small grassroots event, thrown together eight years ago by my brother Kyle and some friends, has grown a lot. We have changed locations twice since the inception of Gleason Fest, as our growth has demanded a larger space. What I love about Gleason Fest is that the community support has been astonishing — not just in attendance, but from our local sponsors, as well. We couldn’t do any of this without their un...continued on next page

Steve Gleason at Gleason Fest in 2016. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

AUGUST 8, 2019 INLANDER 47

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