Leah Still Designs Her Own Flower Girl Dress for Her Father's Wedding after Beating Cancer: 'I Love My Dad'
"We overcame tragedy and are becoming a family," says Devon Still of his daughter, Leah, 5. "It's like a fairy tale."
If Leah Still’s flower girl dress ends up looking a lot like a pink version of Elsa’s gown from Disney’s Frozen, don’t be surprised.
It’s her favorite movie, Elsa is her favorite character and well, she just loves pink.
“I want my dress to look like this,” the spunky five-year-old told PEOPLE as she held up a sketch at a recent consultation with designer Hayley Paige at her New York City headquarters.
[IMAGE “5” “” “std” ]”Lots and lots of glitter!” she giggles, then adds with a shrug. “I’m a glitter girl.”
Her father couldn’t be happier.
“I knew pink was going to be involved,” he says with a smile. “She loves princess stuff.”
It’s hard to tell that the spunky, self-described “girly-girl” sitting in a boutique Manhattan bridal shop designing her own tiny, sparkling hot-pink flower girl frock was battling life-threatening stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer just weeks ago – but doting dad Devon Still says that’s just his daughter’s personality, resilient and consistently positive.
“She’s just had the best attitude of fight and then move forward with life,” Devon, 26, tells PEOPLE of his daughter. “And look where we are now. I’m getting married to my love and Leah gets to be a part of this wedding. We overcame tragedy and are becoming a family. It’s like a fairy tale.”
Nearly two years ago, the recently signed Houston Texans defensive tackle and his fianc Asha Joyce put their wedding plans on hold after Leah was diagnosed with the deadly disease. Doctors gave her a 50-50 chance of survival.
Her diagnosis made headlines across the world in September 2014 after the Cincinnati Bengals cut Devon from their roster but offered him a position on the practice squad so he could keep his health insurance to help pay for Leah’s cancer treatments.
Devon publically documented his daughter’s two-year battle on social media, and officially announced that she “beat cancer,” in January.
The site is helping Devon and Joyce put on their special day – including coordinating with Leah to make her a custom-designed flower girl dress. The site is also helping the couple carry out another dream – raising money for other families facing pediatric cancers – by setting up a charity registry for those in need.
Starting March 16, America is invited to vote on each detail of the day – from Joyce’s dress to the flowers and the honeymoon.
Leah’s dress, however, is not up for discussion. Everyone wanted to make sure Leah got exactly what she wanted for the big day.
“I’m excited for the wedding,” Leah says while coloring in dress sketches with a blush-tinted crayon. “I’ve never been to one!”
It’s clear she truly is Daddy’s little girl.
“I love you dad,” she whispers as she colors.
Devon says it brought him great joy to see his daughter working with Paige to create the dress, reminding him that every moment he sees his daughter happy is “precious.”
“When you sit back and look at everything and hover above, it’s important to remember to cherish every moment you have with your child,” he says. “My daughter was almost taken away from me, and I’ve learned that you can’t waste time.
“I only get 24 hours in a day to spend with Leah and my goal is to see her smile as much as I can,” he says. “We hang out and have fun and are silly.”
The daddy-daughter duo, who plan to “wing it” for their dance but have a special (surprise!) duet performance planned, have learned the importance of relying on family and love during difficult times.
“We aren’t quite at our happy ending right now, but we are getting there, and this journey has brought us so much closer,” says Devon of Leah. “We’ve been through so much in the past two years and things are finally starting to turn around. Hopefully people see that you can go from the lowest of lows and with strength and the right attitude can reach a beautiful high.”
To follow Devon, Asha and Leah’s journey to their dream day, be sure to follow the hashtag #theknotdreamwedding 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.