Local firefighters help give seven-year-old an early Christmas


Firefighters from Petrolia, Dawn-Euphemia and St. Clair helped turn an ordinary day into Christmas for a dying boy.

Theytravelled to St. George at the request of the local fire department to be part of Christmas in St. George.

The small community in Brant County celebrated Christmas Oct. 25 for Evan Leversage. The seven-year old boy has had brain cancer for five years. His doctors told his family if celebrating Christmas is important, they should do it early this year because Evan’s condition was worsening.

So they began planning. But when friends and neighbours heard, they wanted to help and a Christmas parade was set up.

Bill Douglas, his wife, Sara Stankevich and Geoff Abraham – all Petrolia North Enniskillen firefighters – decided to go after getting the invitation from the local fire department. “They wanted to line the street with as many people as they could and it turned into something massive.”

“It’s a sad situation,” says Douglas. “To be there to help make this kid’s wish come true – there was no question; we jumped at the chance.” Douglas and Stankevich have three kids of their own and a grandchild and could feel the pain of the family.

“We talked about how hard it would be to sit down with a seven year old who is dying and ask ‘what do you want to accomplish in your life before you die.’”

So they took one of the department’s service vehicles and set up about 100 feet from Evan’s home and watched. “They brought in a snow machine so when Evan looked out the window, there was snow,” he says adding they could see the little boy’s reaction from where they were sitting.

“He had the biggest smile on his face…for us, it was pretty moving…His smile was just monstrous.”

The biggest smile came when the little boy joined the parade and sat with Santa on his sleigh.

“When he passed…by us there was just this big grin on his face and he was waving…you probably couldn’t have slapped the grin off his face.”

Douglas says the parade was simply moving. “It was a little hard to keep the lump down in my throat just to see all the lights and the support.”

That feeling stayed with him when he came back home to Petrolia. Douglas says he sat on his couch watching the Christmas in St. George Facebook page as greeting after Christmas greeting rolled in for Evan.

“There was one greeting after the next from all over places like China and down in the States… there was literally one a second. I sat on my couch and watched them click by and I cried.”

As emotional as it was, the firefighters are glad they were there.

“It was very very powerful, very moving to be a part of it. It makes you wish you could do more.”