Overwhelming support has been shown for Bengals player Devon Still and his 4-year-old daughter Leah who is fighting pediatric cancer.
Sports can offer the world more than just entertainment.
Devon Still, a defensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals, had his world turned upside down in June when he found out his 4-year-old daughter, Leah, had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer. Still was faced with the challenge of trying to make the Bengals’ 53-man roster, while also trying to take care of his daughter.
Still, who went to Penn State, was the Bengals’ second round pick in 2012 and was expected to come into the team’s facilities and make a difference.
He was cut during preseason and demoted to the practice squad, and even told the Bengals it was because his mind was not fully focused on football. He couldn’t give the team his 100 percent attention, and rightly so.
The Bengals didn’t remove Still altogether. Because he remained on the practice squad, the insurance that comes along with being on the team helped him pay for his daughter’s medical attention. Even in a money-making league that only allows the best players to suit up, a team can still show the heart and humanity for a person in need.
Still eventually told Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis that he was mentally ready to play again, and felt that he could play at the high-level needed to help the team win. Still was activated to the 53-man roster for week one, and immediately saw playing time on the field.
But the Bengals organization took it a step further. For every No. 75 jersey — Still’s number — sold, the team would give the proceeds to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for research on pediatric cancer. The jerseys started flying off of the shelves, and people across the nation and the NFL were getting into it.
Still was later featured on the Today show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show because of the support he received. Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints head coach, single-handedly purchased 100 jerseys from the Bengals to get a jumpstart on the donations.
Since the charity began, the Bengals have raised $1.25 million for pediatric cancer research and are expected to present the money to the hospital during their game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 6, according to ESPN.
This is a story that everyone can get on board with. The support that has flooded in for Still and the Bengals organization has been amazing. There are some things that are bigger than sports, and it’s nice to see that people — in a league made for competition and aggression — can show a softer side.
Leah has since had surgery to remove the tumor and is currently undergoing chemotherapy to have cancerous cells removed. It’s a small victory in the fight for her life, but it shows that there is hope, and that people can rally together when things start to get bad. I’m sure Leah doesn’t know of the full impact she’s had on millions of people, especially those fighting cancer.
With the amount of cancer research money raised, it could possibly lead to a new discovery for the disease, and that in itself is something to be proud of. Hats off to the Bengals and what they did for this man and his family.
Adam Wondrely is a senior studying creative writing and journalism. Email him email@example.com