Steve Gleason, Pete Frates issue ALS challenge to Saints, Pats fans

Former athletes and renowned ALS advocates Steve Gleason and Pete Frates are teaming up this weekend to turn their friendly New Orleans Saints-New England Patriots rivalry into a good cause.

Together with the mayors of New Orleans and Boston, they're challenging people to pick sides during a competitive 24 hours of giving through ALS Ice Bucket Challenges around the Patriots-Saints preseason game in New Orleans.

"I know Steve is a force to be reckoned with," Frates said in a statement, "but, Boston and Pats fans are relentless, proud and always Boston Strong. New Orleans, you and your Who Dats have your job cut out for you."

People can text "Steve" or "Pete" to the number 27722 throughout the day on Saturday to donate $10. Updates will be shared throughout the day on social media to encourage the spirit of competition.

Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS, was one of the co-founders of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that spread into a global phenomenon last year, raising an estimated $220 million to help fight ALS and other neuromuscular disorders.

Gleason, a former Saints special-teams standout, also has ALS, which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Gleason has become a leader in the fight to search for a cure and improve the lives of patients stricken with such diseases. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama signed the Steve Gleason Act into law to make critical technology available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is back this August with an assist from Major League Baseball, which teamed up with the ALS Association to arrange for all 30 teams to take part throughout the month. However, the cause still has yet to capture anywhere near the same level of momentum that it did last year, when people around the world took turns dousing themselves with ice-cold water in the name of raising money and awareness, including a countless list of celebrities, politicians and sports stars.

"Even though the Ice Bucket Challenge raised a lot of money last year, there is still so much to do," Team Gleason executive director Paul Varisco said in a statement. "Steve and Pete are good friends who are both living with ALS, but they are also very competitive. And in this case, they can compete for a cause that still needs a great deal of attention."