Evan Leversage, a Canadian boy from St. George, Ontario, lost his battle with brain cancer December 6, his family reported. He was seven years old. His mother, Nicole Wellwood, said as she held him and he took one last, deep breath, "he died with the most beautiful smile on his face," according to CBC News.
Evan's story garnered international headlines when a small request from the family and the hospice where he was being cared for made a request for the town to put its decorations up early so that the youngster could celebrate Christmas - his favorite holiday - because it was expected he would not live to see it. St. George residents rose to the occasion beautifully, decorating businesses and residences and even hosting a Santa Claus parade where Evan was named honorary constable of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
Evan also had other honors bestowed upon him, including being named honorary firefighter and honorary paramedic. The boy had a special affinity for emergency vehicles, according to CTV News, in addition to being passionate about Christmas.
Evan was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at two years old, and had endured around 100 chemotherapy sessions in an effort to shrink it. Tragically, medical intervention was not enough to help Evan win his cancer battle, though his mother said he faced it with good humor. His obituary described him as a "typical little boy" who loved SpongeBob and Pokemon.
Brant County, of which St. George is a part, said through its mayor Ron Eddy that they were determined that Evan would be able to enjoy what would be his final Christmas.
"There was a deep desire by the citizens and visitors of the area to do an all-out celebration of Christmas," he said, according to CP24. "That is exactly what happened."
Evan entered hospice care at Stedman Community Hospice November 4 when his care became difficult to manage at home, and his mother said hospice care allowed her to become Evan's mom again instead of his caregiver. She said that because of the care shown by the hospice, she and the family were able to enjoy countless special moments with Evan, including the Santa Claus parade held in October.
In the last two months, Evan also got to attend a Toronto Maple Leafs game, see Niagara Falls, eat out at Chuck E. Cheese's and watch Hotel Transylvania 2 with his best friend. Evan's story, and St. George's efforts to ensure the boy got to celebrate Christmas on a grand scale, captured global attention, and ultimately, 7,000 people - more than double the population of St. George - came out to enjoy the Santa Claus parade and celebrate Evan's favorite holiday.
A fund entitled "Evan's Legacy" has been established to honor the seven-year-old, and funds raised will go to fight childhood brain cancers. In addition, an online fundraiser has raised $50,000 to go to Tyson and Logan's - Evan's brothers - future needs, as well as covering family expenses. The fundraiser was initially established to raise $1,500 to help Evan see Christmas one last time, but that total was exceeded beyond expectations in a month.
While Evan had been thrilled at St. George's show of compassion, he had admitted while his mother was being interviewed by an internet news channel that things would not feel quite like Christmas without snow. Brandy King, owner of La Petite Fleur flower shop in St. George, had said back in October just days before the parade that FX from Toronto would ensure that there would be snowfall around Evan's home when the parade happened, according to the Hamilton Spectator.
Wellwood said that while she is grieving Evan's death, she is overwhelmed by the huge support by the international community.
"It was like (Evan) was put on this earth with a purpose to share his love and light with everyone who met him," she said via a statement. "While my heart has broken, it is slowly being mended by the outpouring of love and support that we have received at this time."
(Feature Image courtesy of Shelly Wellwood via ABC News)