METAIRIE, La. — A dream trip to the Super Bowl ended in tragedy for a 39-year-old North Carolina man suffering from ALS when he was killed in a van that caught fire on the way to the game.

Ed Cushman had obtained tickets to the game through Team Gleason, the charitable foundation started by former Saints player Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS himself.

WWL-TV and the New Orleans Advocate were the first to report details of the fatal accident. According to their reports, the Georgia state highway patrol said Cushman’s brother, Rob, was driving a 2007 Dodge Caravan through Franklin County, Georgia, when the vehicle started smoking underneath. Rob then pulled over to examine the source of the smoke, and he told authorities that flames started erupting out of each side. He said he tried to extract Ed, who was in a wheelchair and on a ventilator, but he was unable to.

Ed Cushman had reached out to Team Gleason some time ago, saying it was his dream to go to the Super Bowl. Every year since Gleason was diagnosed in 2011, Team Gleason has helped to secure ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act) tickets to the Super Bowl for those suffering from ALS and other neuromuscular diseases. Cushman was one of three people with ALS and their families who were going to this year’s game through Team Gleason’s efforts.

“All of us at Team Gleason are deeply saddened after learning about the tragedy that resulted in the loss of Ed Cushman’s life,” Team Gleason said through a statement. “Our brief relationship with Ed’s family was filled with excitement, as Team Gleason secured the ADA Super Bowl tickets he requested. Like so many with ALS, Ed was passionate about living and he dreamed of going to the Super Bowl. We were honored to have played a small role in helping make that possible for such an amazing man.

“Words cannot express how shocked we are for Ed and his entire family. We remain committed to our ALS community and Ed’s family in this time of incredible sadness.”

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