ADL Honors Ochsner’s Warner Thomas, Steve Gleason with Torch of Liberty Award

ADL (The Anti-Defamation League) has selected Warner Thomas and Steve Gleason as this year’s A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award winners. Thomas and Gleason were chosen for their “commitment to the community and to the values of ADL.”  

“This year’s award recipients were chosen because they have changed the way in which we think about health, ability, and well-being, and they have shown a commitment to breaking down barriers that people face every day in accessing healthcare,” said Aaron Ahlquist, ADL’s South Central regional director.  “Warner is a visionary leader who has guided Ochsner Health System to prioritize innovation, inclusivity, and diversity, and a holistic approach to patient health.  Steve Gleason, through Team Gleason, has fundamentally changed perceptions around ability and neuromuscular disorders, while inspiring countless others to change their understanding of perseverance and possibility.  The award recipients actively seek to make a positive and lasting impact for individuals and communities facing adversity, and work to overcome those challenges, and they represent the best of ADL’s mission to seek justice and fair treatment for all.”  

​“As a pediatrician at Ochsner Hospital for Children and an ADL board member, I am very excited about our ground-breaking partnership work addressing the ‘whole child’ and the recognition that social-emotional health is of equal importance to a child’s physical health,” says Dr. Daniel Bronfin, ADL South Central board member and general pediatrician and medical director, Ochsner Craniofacial Program.  “In this first year of our partnership, we have focused on teaching effective engagement of children and adolescents in important conversations about bullying and identity.”

Steve Gleason played with the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2008.  Gleason was diagnosed in January of 2011 with ALS. By sharing his personal journey, he demonstrates that people can not only live but thrive after an ALS diagnosis.  Steve and his wife, Michel, formed Team Gleason to help accomplish these goals and create a global conversation about ALS to ultimately find solutions and end the disease.  When Steve was first diagnosed, he famously said there will be “No White Flags,” which has become the mantra of Team Gleason. 

​“The positive impact Warner and Steve have had – and will continue to have – on people in this region and beyond results not just from passion and hard work but also from a refusal to accept the status quo,” said Ann Thompson, ADL South Central regional board chair. “They push to improve upon, and increase access to quality healthcare, not letting obstacles get in their way. Their success is rooted in leading by example and addressing challenges in a collaborative way. They embody ADL’s goal of seeking fair treatment for all, and we are honored to recognize them as recipients of the Torch of Liberty award.”  

The awards will be presented at the annual A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award dinner at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans on Dec. 5, 2018. Warner Thomas’ dinner chairs are Bill Oliver and David Gaines, and Steve Gleason’s dinner chairs are Phyllis Taylor and Zach Strief.  Tickets are available at or by contacting the local ADL office at or (504) 780-5602.