Ontario boy whose town gave him early Christmas before he died inspires new Bengali film
The story of St. George, Ont., which caught the eyes of people from across the world after it put on an elaborate early Christmas celebration for a seven-year-old boy with terminal brain cancer, has now inspired a new Bengali film.
In 2015, doctors told mother Nicole Wellwood her son, Evan Leversage, would not live to see the upcoming Christmas — the little boy’s favorite holiday.
Wellwood decided to have Christmas early for Leversage and the community of St. George joined in.
“It was a dream come true,” she said.
“I can remember Evan waking up that morning and his very first words were ‘Merry Christmas momma.’ He really had believed it was Christmas.”
Leversage passed away on Dec. 6 2015, just a few weeks shy of Christmas and the community grieved his death.
But a year and a half ago, Wellwood said she received a message on social media from director Srijit Mukherji, telling her how inspired he was by her son’s story.
“Srijit had messaged me over Facebook. He had sent a beautifully written message saying how St. George and Evan had inspired him [to do] ‘Uma.’” she said.
“I was a little bit shocked because it was a filmmaker in India … our small town is so far from there. How this and what occurred here inspired a film to be made there, it’s really impactful.”
The film “Uma” debuted in May in Kolkata, India and Wellwood went to watch its premiere.
“I was an emotional mess but the whole atmosphere that night was incredible. I was with the whole cast and crew and we all shared tears and embraced each other,” Wellwood said.
The film also had screenings in St. George, St. Mary’s and Toronto.
“In St. George, it was an incredible experience because every moment I was feeling I was sitting among the people who did this for Evan and for humanity,” said Anuradha Sen, program coordinator of Toronto Sanskriti Sangstha.
Sen helped organized the screenings and said money was raised and donated to Evan’s Legacy, which will help research pediatric brain cancer.
A portion of proceeds were also donated to Stedman Community Hospice, where Evan received end of life care.
“To share it with the community was very emotional,” Wellwood said.
“There was a lot of tears but a lot of people say they leave the film inspired.”
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