2019 Sports Philanthropy Award
Still Strong Foundation – Help Us Make a Difference!
“Deciding between keeping the lights on or keeping watch over your sick child is not a choice any parent should face. Choosing between paying bills and your child’s treatment should not be an option.” – Devon Still
Devon and Leah Still created the Still Strong Foundation (www.stillstrongfoundation.org) to lend a helping hand to families whose children are battling cancer. The foundation’s mission is simple yet powerful: Help parents spend less time worrying about non-medical bills, like mortgages and utilities, and more time supporting their child to a victorious fight against cancer.
Devon and Leah are also positively influencing the global cancer conversation by contributing to much needed pediatric cancer research.
But they can’t do it alone….and need your help.
The Difficult Choice to “Beat Up Cancer”
Devon was in the prime of his NFL career, an up and coming star defensive tackle with the Cincinnati Bengals, when his daughter Leah’s unexpected trip to the emergency room would change his life forever.
At age four, Leah’s stage 4 neuroblastoma diagnosis rocked Devon, his family and his faith to the core. Extensive tests revealed a bleak prognosis: she only had a 50/50 chance of survival. Devon prepared to sideline his promising football career to be by Leah’s side as she prepared for the fight of her life. Then, he learned her treatments would cost more than $1 million. He had to choose, give up football or be able to afford extensive treatments and his everyday bills.
Devon returned to the football field, a gut-wrenching but necessary decision. When not on the field, he was with Leah. She spent weeks at a time at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, receiving aggressive treatments that helped her “beat up cancer.” Thanks to the care Leah received, she’s now a happy, healthy 8-year-old. In remission and living with purpose.
But for many families, the choices are more complicated and the options are fewer.
The Decision to Pay It Forward
The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 16,000 children, ages birth to 19, will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States, according to research published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). These diagnoses continue to rise, as do the mounting expenses parents face, forced to juggle substantial medical, non-medical, and out-of-pocket costs not covered by insurance.
The challenges of managing ongoing hospital and in-home cancer care costs often lead to extreme financial situations, even bankruptcy. The ASCO research reveals 84 percent of families in the United States experience some form of work disruption: reduced hours and job changes/loss as a result of their child’s cancer diagnosis. Twenty percent of these families lost more than 40 percent of their income. Non-medical expenses directly associated with a child’s cancer treatment average 38 percent of a family’s gross income. This situation is dire, but what can be done?
The Still Strong Foundation and families whose children are battling cancer need your help. Limited support is available to assist these families, who should be focused on saving their child, not saving their home.
During Leah’s journey, Devon heard from other parents facing similar situations, but they painted stark financial pictures and unthinkable choices between paying for their child’s treatment or paying the mortgage. Devon was inspired to pay forward the support he and Leah received and vowed to use his unique platform as a professional athlete to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research.