Evan Leversage, the southern Ontario boy whose last wish for an early Christmas was fulfilled by his entire town, was laid to rest Thursday.

Family, friends and community members filled a St. George, Ont., church to pay their respects to the seven-year-old who died after a years-long struggle with an inoperable brain tumour.

During the service, pastor Steve Barna said that Evan touched the lives of people around the world, not just in St. George.

Evan’s mother, Nicole Wellwood, hopes those thousands of people who grieved alongside her can help her achieve another goal: turning Evan’s tragedy into an opportunity to help others afflicted by the same disease he battled.

Wellwood set up a fund with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada that aims to finance research into childhood brain cancer.

“I can only pray standing here today that my promise I made to Evan in the last weeks of his life remain true,” Wellwood said. “My promise was that I would give him an answer when we met again, that I would know why children get cancer.”

As of Thursday, the fund has only raised $6,500 – a fraction of the cost of even the smallest studies, which generally cost upwards of $25,000 to undertake.

Susan Marshall, the foundation’s CEO, says she hopes more donations will follow.

“I agree it's not a lot of money, and it doesn't go far in the research environment,” Marshall told CTV News. “We are grateful for what we are receiving and we hope it will grow.”

Evan’s journey

The small town of St. George made headlines in October, when it put on an early Christmas parade for Evan, complete with artificial snow and Santa in his sleigh. Doctors who told Evan’s family that he may not live until Christmas were sadly right. The boy died in hospice care on Sunday, in his mother’s arms.

OPP Const. Ken Johnston, who served as one of the pallbearers at Evan’s funeral, said the “courageous” boy’s story touched hearts around the world.

“It was one of those stories that just came out and just grabbed you by the heart and I don’t think there was anybody that wasn’t affected by it,” he told CTV Kitchener.

Evan’s story got international coverage, and his family received messages of support from as far away as Australia.

“The impact that Evan has had on the world in his seven years is further reaching and more enduring than most souls who get to stay here ten times as long,” the Steadman Community Hospice, where Evan spent his last days, said in a Facebook post.

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