Leah Still planned to celebrate five years cancer free with a dinner at her favorite steakhouse.
The 10-year-old daughter of former NFL player Devon Still had to settle for a home-cooked meal when the coronavirus pandemic scuttled those plans.
Shoutouts, though, lauding her recovery from entertainment and sports stars ranging from Kevin Hart to LeBron James were a pretty sweet reward for a girl who raised cancer awareness and funds during her own fight with the disease.
Leah Still was amazed James sent a video message telling the fifth grader, “I just want you to know that I’m still right there with you because you will always be one of my favorites.”
“I was really shocked and happy,” she said.
Still was 4 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affects primarily infants and young children. She needed a stem-cell transplant, and her blood vessels and liver would become infected from chemotherapy treatments. The struggle took a toll on Leah and her family -- making the five-year milestone all the more meaningful for the girl that’s became the face of the #StillStrong campaign that led to a foundation that gives grants to families affected by childhood cancers.
She was to mark five years of her cancer being in remission with an annual fundraising gala for the foundation that also was canceled because of the pandemic. So was a golf outing fundraiser at Penn State, where Devon Still was team captain and earned all All-America honors before he enjoyed a brief NFL career. The pandemic crippled fundraising and also kept the 31-year-old Still from making volunteer trips to children’s hospitals.
“We’ve had to find creative ways online to try and raise money because these families need this money more now than they ever needed it before,” Still said. “We have to continue this fight against childhood cancer.”