With Daughter on the Mend, Devon Still to Marry Fiancée Asha in Dream Wedding
In the early months of summer 2014, NFL player Devon Still proposed to his girlfriend of three years, Asha Joyce. Weeks later, his 4-year-old daughter, Leah, began treatments to fight her stage 4 neuroblastoma.
“When we first got engaged, we didn’t jump right into planning because Leah was our number-one priority,” Still, 26, tells PEOPLE. “It was all about getting her better.” Leah’s fight was well-documented, with Still posting regular social media updates on her progress, from the not-so-good to the really great.
Accepting the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2015 ESPYs in July, Still recalled the “nightmare” of first receiving Leah’s diagnosis, and how he found solace in praying with Asha, also 26, during the long nights that followed. “You stood by my side, you let me know that you weren’t going anywhere, that you were going to be there for me,” he said, later adding, “I promise you I’m going to try and give you the wedding of your dreams.”
Now, he is, thanks to TheKnot.com. The wedding planning site picked Still and Joyce as the recipients of this year’s Dream Wedding, and will help the two plan every step of the process, from venue and flowers to cake and Joyce’s gown. The site will also help the couple carry out another dream – raising money for other families facing pediatric cancers – by setting up a charity registry for those in need.
This isn’t your typical wedding, though: America is invited to vote on each detail of the day (yep, including Joyce’s dress), something that doesn’t seem to scare the bride- and groom-to-be.
“I’ve grown a lot of trust in a lot of people throughout Leah’s battle with cancer, so I’m pretty sure they can get it right,” Still says. “It’s going to be interesting to see how America views us and what they think is best.”
What’s already determined is that Leah – now 5 and in remission, though facing a few months more of therapy – will be the flower girl on the big day. “When we first started talking about the wedding, she made it clear she wanted it to be pink and gold because those are her favorite colors,” Still shares.
“I love pink as well,” Joyce adds, “so her dress will definitely be pink!”
But beyond the big day, Still and Joyce are looking forward to a time where Leah is back to being “normal little girl,” and where they can continue to face life’s ups and downs together.
“Having Asha by my side has definitely made it easier to travel down this path. Overcoming the things we’ve overcome I’m just looking forward to what the future holds for us,” Still says. “We’ll make it through whatever is thrown our way.”
Perhaps with a few more little ones in tow, if Leah has her way.
“She’s made it clear she wants a sister,” Joyce says, laughing.
Visit TheKnot.com/DreamWedding to follow all the details of Still and Joyce’s big day, and to donate to the Still Strong Foundation, The V Foundation for Cancer Research, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, through their charity registry, powered by Crowdrise.