Girl, 10, ‘marries’ boyfriend days before dying of leukemia

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By Dan Sears

Emma Edwards, 10, always dreamed of getting married.

She and her beau, Daniel Marshall Christopher “DJ” Williams, Jr., tried to have a wedding ceremony at their elementary school.

But the teacher told the pair they couldn’t get married at school.

Love conquers all, however, and Emma and DJ tied the knot at a big celebration on June 29 — just 12 days before Emma died of leukemia.

Emma was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in April 2022. Her parents, Alina and Aaron Edwards, of Walnut Cove, N.C., were hopeful she’d be able to beat the cancer.

ALL is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, according to the Mayo Clinic.

children at wedding ceremony
Emma Edwards’ last wish was to get married to her childhood sweetheart, DJ Williams.
Kennedy News/Erick Messer

It’s the most common type of cancer in children, and treatments can result in a good chance for a cure.

But in June, Emma’s parents received the news that her cancer was incurable, and she had only a few days to live.

“We were going for another kind of treatment, and they told us that she probably had days to a week, not weeks” to live, Alina, 39, told Kennedy News.

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“We didn’t expect to hear that at all. We thought we were going for another kind of treatment and it would work. It was like a gut punch. You never imagine them saying they can’t do anything else for her,” Alina added.

That’s when Alina and DJ’s mothers sprang into action and started making plans for a mock “wedding.”

children in hospital room
Emma and DJ were “married” in a mock ceremony on June 29, 2023.
Kennedy News and Media

“It had to happen super fast. We threw it together in less than two days, everything ended up being donated,” Alina said of the wedding, a garden ceremony with some 100 guests in attendance.

“It was so precious, and it came together so well. Her dad gets to say he gave her away. A friend of ours officiated, a friend read a verse from the Bible, and her best friend was maid of honor,” Alina added.

And unlike many a mother-in-law, Alina has nothing but kind words for her new son-in-law: “DJ is the sweetest soul you’ll ever meet. He has a heart of gold and he really loves Emma.”

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Alina said that Emma seemed to be a healthy child — until they took her to the hospital because she fell over, which is when doctors discovered the cancer in the bones in her legs last year.

DJ williams with a wedding band
DJ Williams shows off his wedding ring during the ceremony.
Kennedy News/Erick Messer

“She was never sick before,” Alina said. “All of a sudden, she started throwing up. We found it by accident. She had fallen, so they checked her legs, and they found the cancer was eating holes in her bones and making her weak.”

Emma’s friends and neighbors in the community have shown their support to her and the entire Edwards family.

Race car drivers at Bowman Gray Stadium in nearby Winston-Salem, N.C., sported “Emma’s Army” stickers on their cars at a July racing event.

The stickers were also on sale as a fundraising effort to help the Edwards family, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

In June, there was another fundraising event to help the family with medical bills, with several drivers attending.

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“Most kids want to go to Disneyland, but Emma wanted to get married, be a wife and have three kids,” Alina said. “She was a sweetheart. I always say we must have made marriage look really fun because that’s all she wanted.”

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