Evan Leversage, terminally ill boy who inspired early Christmas festivities, dies
Christmas lights in St. George, Ont., were up on Oct. 24 and the main street full of decorations
Evan Leversage, the little boy who was battling brain cancer and whose hometown of St. George, Ont., held an early Christmas parade in his honour, has died.
"I was holding him as he took one last deep breath, and I knew at that very moment that this would be his last," said Evan's mother, Nicole Wellwood, in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday.
"I couldn't believe my eyes but he died with the most beautiful smile on his face."
The seven-year-old's family had been maintaining a vigil at his bedside at Stedman Community Hospice in Brantford, Ont., since he was admitted last month. The facility confirmed Evan passed away early Sunday morning.
"While my heart has broken, it is slowly being mended by the outpouring of love and support that we have received," said Wellwood.
Evan's illness had prompted doctors to suggest to his family that a holiday celebration be held early this year.
"One of Evan's favourite highlights during his stay at the hospice was the day that staff wheeled his bed into the family room so that he could direct the volunteer firefighters who were putting together the huge 12-foot Christmas tree," the hospice's Facebook statement said.
"Evan took great pride in telling them where to put each decoration on that tree and also enjoyed a special visit from Santa."
Early Christmas for Evan
On Oct. 24, the Christmas lights in St. George were up, the main street was full of decorations and carolers went door to door.
The town, 35 kilometres west of Hamilton, turned out to support the boy, who had battled brain cancer for five years.
"What started out as a small request to have neighbours put their outdoor lights up a little early for Evan to enjoy blossomed into an international outpouring of love and support," the hospice statement said.
About 7,000 people — more than double the town's population — joined the festive celebrations.
Evan was diagnosed with cancer a couple days before he turned two. He completed 70 weeks of chemotherapy and seemed to be thriving.
But last January, he began losing mobility in his arm and leg — and an MRI revealed that the tumour had grown.
Another 30 rounds of chemotherapy were completed in April.
His family learned this fall that Evan's tumour had grown and spread.
Journalists from around the world also took notice as reports about Evan and St. George appeared on British, Irish and U.S. media sites, as well as in newspapers all over Canada.
Funeral arrangements are to be finalized in the coming days.