Elena Delle Donne, an Olympic gold medalist, has bravely shared her battle with Lyme disease, along with having a namesake charitable foundation that raises awareness and support for Lyme disease patients and the Special Olympics. But the Washington Mystics shooting guard doesn't stop there: With her November wedding to Amanda Clifton, she hopes to help the cause of normalizing same-sex marriage.
“I don’t want people to have to have these huge coming outs anymore," Delle Donne said, echoing sentiments shared on this year's National Coming Out Day. "It should just be the norm. I love a woman. Or a man and a woman love each other. It should just be no big deal."
When Clifton, director of the De11e Donne Skills Academy, proposed to Delle Donne in June 2016 (by attaching the ring to their dog Wrigley's collar!), Delle Donne thought it was a joke. But once she caught on, she said yes—even though she was already planning a proposal for Clifton. "I still proposed because we'd said to each other [that] every girl wants to be proposed to," Delle Donne said. The two will marry on Long Island November 3.
Instead of labeling theirs a "same-sex wedding," the couple wants people to focus on their love for each other. "I hope in people’s minds they just see it as two beautiful brides and move on," Delle Donne said. "You don’t see enough of two brides or two grooms.”
Using her personal experiences to fuel her work for social good is not new to Delle Donne: The Elena Delle Donne Charitable Foundation supports the Special Olympics because Delle Donne's sister, Lizzie, has special needs.
"She’s made me a different person. She’s my constant perspective,” Delle Donne said of Lizzie. “I’m often exhausted from the Lyme [disease], and frustrated with my body. It’s hard. But when I think about my position—when I think about how tired I am or how much it hurts—I think about Lizzie. I’m so lucky to have the health that I do, and so lucky to have a body and mind which allow me to do what I do. She inspires me. None of my hardships are even close to the same plane as what she has endured. And look at what makes her happy...wind. That’s perspective. She’s never said a word to me, but Lizzie has taught me more than anyone in my life.”
Because her sister is such an important person in Delle Donne's life, having Lizzie meet Clifton was a major step for the couple's relationship.
"The first moment between Lizzie—my sister—and Amanda was a huge moment because meeting Lizzie can be tough," Delle Donne remembered. "So to watch Amanda experience that first time with Lizzie and the joy that I saw on Amanda's face is so special and that's why I always try to share Lizzie with the world. But it was great. If Lizzie approves, I'm doing something right."
The couple's wedding is fast-approaching. While they can't share many details—it's being planned as part of a dream wedding by The Knot—Clifton and Della Donne have answered the question of whether their dogs will be involved in the ceremony: They won't. Having included Wrigley and Rasta in the proposal, they considered making them part of the big day, but Rasta is recovering from ACL surgery and can't make it.
Delle Donne is pulling for a different special guest, though. “If Pink is on TV, [Clifton] is sitting and waiting for Pink to come on,” Delle Donne said. “It would be such a great gift to my beautiful wife to have Pink there.”
We'll have to wait and see if the singer will come to perform—or to share sage marriage advice—but either way, the couple can't wait to walk down the aisle! "I'm most excited for the wedding because it's just gonna be one big party with a lot of great people," Delle Donne said. Clifton chimed in, "I think to intertwine our families will be fun."