Pumpkins to benefit St. Jude

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkins grown in Leachville will benefit children at St. Jude for the second harvest year.

JD Shepard and daughters, Ashley (left) and Whitney (right) and granddaughter Kylee, enjoy the pumpkin patch. Proceeds from the pumpkin sales will go to St. Jude in memory of Casey Shepard. (photo provided)

JD Shepard started planting pumpkins last year as a hobby. He said he had the ground and the time and he hoped the children would enjoy watching the pumpkins grow. His daughter, Whitney Shepard Holden, turned it into a family project in memory of the Shepard's oldest daughter, Casey.

Tabitha Casey Shepard lost her battle to cancer on Oct. 20, 2007, at the age of 22. She was diagnosed with AML and ALL in June of 2006. Casey was a 2003 graduate of Manila High School.

All of the family joined in again this year including JD and Diana; Whitney, Ashley and Dustin Lasater, and daughter, Kylee.

"The weather did not cooperate with us this year," Whitney said.

Last year they had a pumpkin festival taking pictures of the children and pumpkins.

They had festival plans for this year but the rain forced them to get the pumpkins out of the field.

This year Mr. Shepard planted some solid white Ghost Pumpkins. They were pretty, but difficult to carve. One of the largest pumpkins weighed well over 100 pounds.

All the proceeds from the pumpkin sales will be delivered to St. Jude by JD, Whitney and Ashley.

"Casey was over 18 when she was diagnosed with cancer and was too old to be treated at St. Jude but we know St. Jude helps so many children," Whitney said.

Whitney said she plans on sponsoring a St. Jude child for Christmas this year.

"It will be my Christmas present to me," she said.

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