By Colby Itkowitz October 19, 2015
In one small Canadian village, Christmas has come early.
When the sun sets Monday night in St. George, a quaint hamlet in Ontario, its Main Street will light up with Christmas decorations. Every storefront will be aglow. The trees will be strung with colorful bulbs. The sidewalks will be full of reindeer and Santas and snowmen.
It’s all for one seven-year-old boy who isn’t expected to live to December 25. So his community came together and moved up the calendar.
Evan Leversage is terminally ill with brain cancer he’s battled almost his entire life. He’s been through chemotherapy and radiation. He’s lost vision in one eye. His family learned recently that his condition was worsening and there was nothing more the doctors could do.
So his cousin, Shelly Wellwood, began circulating a small poster around town asking if people would consider putting their holiday decorations up early so Evan could experience one last real Christmas. When Brandy King, owner of La Petite Fleur, saw the request she scanned a copy and put it on Facebook.
That’s when the offers to help started pouring in from businesses and families in town, and beyond.
On Facebook, the owners of Strodes BBQ and Deli asked if they could donate a Christmas dinner. A landscaping company and a local greenhouse offered to decorate the planters in town. A woman wrote that she’s part of a community concert band and would like to play Christmas carols. A dozen different people volunteered to play Santa. A local photographer offered to capture it all. People from as far as Florida planned to decorate their homes early, too, and send pictures for Evan. Some asked if they could send Evan gifts. He began receiving Christmas cards from strangers.
And Saturday, the town has planned a Christmas parade to march through Evan’s neighborhood. There are already 25 floats committed, that, according to Wellwood’s Facebook page for the event, includes, “dancers, cadets, firetruck, Lions club float, lots of horses, a DeLorean, a Shelby mustang, a cement truck, a dump truck, Touch the Truck float, some family and local business floats and Santa and his reindeer will be making an appearance.”
It’s no surprise for a town that is actually nicknamed “The Friendly Village.”
King became the de facto organizer for decorating Main Street. On Sunday night she had about 5o people come to help set up. Evan will have a Christmas dinner with his family on Monday and then come downtown to see the lights, which will be turned on nightly through next weekend.
“I was shocked with how quickly people got on board with Evan’s situation,” King told The Washington Post on Monday. “I’ve been overwhelmed with how loving and generous our community is.”
Wellwood, who was already at the family dinner when we reached her, also started a GoFundMe page to solicit donations for Evan’s mom, Nikki Wellwood.
“Nikki is in survival mode and is working hard to make the most of the present and immediate future with Evan and his brothers,” she wrote. “It’s hard for her to think about the future.”
Except when that future is the present. Right now, while Evan is still healthy enough to enjoy it, they’re going to have a Merry Christmas.