TORONTO —; Christmas is coming early this year for a terminally ill little boy in a small Ontario town.
St. George has come together to deck the halls and create Christmas in October for Evan Leversage, a seven-year-old boy with an inoperable brain tumor.
Evan has battled cancer for most of his life; he was diagnosed before his second birthday and has since endured grueling rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.
In February, his family learned the tumor had grown and spread, and doctors made a heartbreaking suggestion: perhaps the family should celebrate Christmas early this year.
“I approached my family and said can we have a small Christmas in October, and now we’ve got a whole family Christmas and a whole community Christmas,” Evan’s mother Nicole Wellwood said.
Her cousin Shelly took the idea to the next level, starting a Facebook and GoFundMe campaign to get the entire town involved.
Joanne Webb is just one of many local merchants in St. George preparing an early Christmas for Evan Leversage. Lama Nicolas/Global News
Joanne Webb is just one of many local merchants in St. George preparing an early Christmas for Evan Leversage.
Lama Nicolas/Global News
The plans quickly snowballed; the town is adorned in lights and decorations, and a Christmas parade with more than 25 floats is scheduled for October 24.
“We’ve decided to light up St. George for Evan,” said Joanne Webb, whose local flower shop is decorated with an elaborate wintry window display.
“I want him to feel that we love him, that everybody loves him, that he knows our community is here for him, that we’ve shared our love with him.”
Other shops in town are decorated and bear signs saying “Merry Christmas Evan.”
Wellwood says she’s overwhelmed by the town’s spirit and love for her boy.
“St. George has rallied behind Evan [before] … but this go-round, I’m just totally amazed,” she says. “No words could ever begin to express how thankful I am to this whole community.
“It really does mean the world. We don’t know where Evan’s going be in December. He’s having problems with his memory right now, he’s sleeping a lot more, but right now he’s able to really get the extent of it, he’s able to still smile and he knows Santa’s coming and seeing him light up like that it’s… I’m amazed by it all.”
Evan endured 70 rounds of chemotherapy after his initial diagnosis days before his second birthday. While the tumor was inoperable, it remained static.
But last January, Evan lost mobility in his right arm and leg. An MRI showed the tumor branching out and he underwent another 30 rounds of radiation treatments that wrapped up in April. After that, doctors said there are no more treatments available.
Despite his struggles, Wellwood says Evan never loses his sunny outlook.
“He is my inspiration and my hero,” she said.
“I’ve seen him fight and beat all odds. I’ve seen him on his bad days, I’ve seen him on his good days and every day, he still smiles.”
“As a child, I didn’t know if Evan was going to talk because of the damage the tumor had already started doing and now… in the middle of the night since all this has started going on, but when he found about what was going on with him medically, he wakes me up and he goes ‘Mummy, I’m not going to leave you.’”