Evan Leversage dies 'peacefully and pain free' in hospice care
BRANTFORD, Ont. -- A terminally ill Ontario boy whose wish for an early Christmas attracted a heartfelt outpouring of support has died.
A statement posted on the Facebook page of the Stedman Community Hospice in Brantford says seven-year-old Evan Leversage died early Sunday morning, just a few weeks after his community put on a Christmas parade for the dying boy.
"Evan died peacefully and pain free in his mom Nicole Wellwood's arms," said the statement.
Evan, from the small Ontario community of St. George, suffered from an inoperable brain tumour.
Doctors told the boy's family this year that they weren't sure if he would live to see this Christmas, so St. George put on an early Christmas parade in October, complete with artificial snow strewn around Evan's home.
The boy got to hop onto Santa's sleigh and ride with him through the streets of St. George with thousands of townspeople looking on.
Evan was admitted to the Stedman facility on Nov. 4 and his family had maintained a vigil at his bedside ever since.
"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 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."
The boy's story attracted international attention with people reaching out from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom, among other places.
"One of Evan's favourite things to do was to have his family read all the mail that he received from caring people around the world. The family was told by the St. George Post Office that Evan has received even more mail than letters to Santa," the statement said.
Social media was flooded with condolences Sunday.
"RIP Evan Leversage. You did what most of us never will -- you brought a community together in love," one person posted.
The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada joined with his family earlier this year to launch a fundraising campaign to support research into childhood brain cancer.
Funeral arrangements are to be finalized in the coming days.