Pumpkins grown for St. Jude

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Shepard Pumpkin patch is being enjoyed by the younger members of the family and will be used as a fund-raiser for St. Jude Children's Hospital. Pictured with Whitney Shepard Holder are children Kylee Lasater, Makala Decker, Lauren Decker, Dylan Holden, Raegan Decker and Jaxton Decker. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

A pumpkin patch planted as a hobby by JD Shepard of Leachville turned into a project to help children at St. Jude.

Shepard said he had time and planted the pumpkins for "something to do" and for the grandchildren to enjoy.

The idea to turn the pumpkins into a project for St. Jude came from his daughter, Whitney Shepard Holden. It has turned into a family project in the memory of the Shepards oldest daughter, Casey, who died on Oct. 20, 2007, after a hard, fought battle with ALL and AML.

Whitney and Wes Holden married in June. At their wedding reception there was a money tree and Whitney and Wes decided to send the money to St. Jude in memory of her sister.

"When Casey was diagnosed with cancer, she was one year too old to be treated at St. Jude Children's Hospital," Whitney said. "I know St. Jude is a wonderful place and helps children. I received a letter with a picture of a little boy who is being treated at St. Jude for ALL and the idea of using the pumpkin patch as a fund raiser started."

The Shepards will take their pumpkins to Tom Puckett's Shop (located behind Farmers Market in Leachville) and will be taking pictures with children from 12-4 p.m. for $5 each. They will also have a silent auction for the biggest pumpkin.

"Leon Swihart donated a bicycle to raffle to add to the fund raiser," Shepard said.

All of the proceeds from the pumpkin sales, pictures, and bicycle give-away will go to St. Jude.

"If we have any pumpkins left, we will take them with the money raised to St. Jude so the children can enjoy them," Whitney said.

Family members including Deanna Shepard, their youngest daughter, Ashley, and Casey's aunt, Robin Decker, have joined in the project for St. Jude.

"We invite everyone to come out on Saturday and have their children's picture taken," Whitney said. "We will have small prizes for the children.

"During the difficult time when our family was going through Casey's illness and treatments, our community came through for us. They supported us in many ways. This is a way we can give back. St. Jude Research Hospital helps children in their battle with cancer and we are fortunate to have it close to our home."

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