By Laura Cudworth, The Beacon Herald
ST. MARYS — Evan Leversage runs through the grass holding his plastic fire helmet with the rest of the toddlers and preschoolers in a frenzy to get to the next truck parked on the flats.
Unlike the other kids, Evan stops every once in a while to grab his left eye before he takes off again. He’s losing the vision in that eye because of an inoperable brain tumour.
“He’s running around totally in love with everything,” his mom Nicole Wellwood said at Evan’s Touch the Truck event, held in his honour.
Evan was initially diagnosed with a lazy eye, but just four days shy of his second birthday his parents were given the unthinkable news.
“No one thought in a million years Evan had a brain tumour. He could have been born with it,” Wellwood said.
“I’d never really heard the words, childhood cancer.’ ”
Because the very idea that a baby or small child can have cancer is unimaginable, the family wanted to raise some awareness.
When Evan was 10 months old and Ashley Agar’s son was 16 months they went to a similar event in Woodstock.
“My cousin, who never asks for anything, said, Will you help bring awareness to childhood cancer?’ This (event) popped into my head,” Agar said.
What they ended up with was fire trucks, an ambulance, a purple cement truck, a refurbished train, dump trucks and a variety of others all there to be climbed on, have the horns pressed and the lights and sirens switched on and off.
“I was down here shortly after 8 a.m. when the first truck rolled in. It was so exciting,” Agar said.
It was little boy heaven, and hundreds of families turned out.
“I was not expecting it at all. This is absolutely blowing my mind at how amazing this is. It’s very emotional seeing how many people support Evan,” his mom said.
As his third birthday approaches on Sept. 14 he also approaches the one year anniversary of his diagnosis. He’ll continue getting chemotherapy to keep the tumour from growing.
“It’s deep in his brain. It’s something that can’t afford a fraction of growth without causing lifelong effects,” Wellwood said.
His next scan is Sept. 22 to make sure the tumour has remained stable.
Kim Sherwood brought her son David, 3, to the event. While David was drawn to the trucks, Sherwood was there to show her support. Like most families, hers too has been touched by cancer.
“I make chemo-caps for kids in London. It’s a big thing in our family right now. Childhood cancer is not a fun thing and there seems to be so many more kids who get it. We have to do something,” she said.
Admission was by donation, not to Evan’s family but to Childcan, an organization that helps families cope with childhood cancer.
“Childcan has been a saving grace for my cousin,” Agar said.
They ended up raising about $3,500.
The response was so good Agar is seriously considering doing it again next year.
“I think we will. With the support of the companies involved and people coming, why not?”
Another event will be held for Evan next weekend in Clinton. Horsing Around for Childhood Cancer will run on Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. at the harness track.