Local boy who died battling cancer in 2015, is honored on his 18th birthday

PHOENIX, Ore. — People gathered at Jackson County Animal Services on Sunday to honor a young man who made a big impact in his short life.

Alex Shepherd passed away in 2015 after a tough battle with brain cancer.

“This year has been particularly hard because it’s a milestone birthday,” said Alex’s mom, Aushna Shepherd.

He would have been 18 years old on Sunday.

Every year on February 23rd, his family and friends meet at Jackson County Animal Services to honor him and donate cat supplies.

“Having people come out and still remember and give us love, it means more than I could ever explain,” added Shepherd.

Alex was known as the “Cat Whisperer.”

He spent a lot of time volunteering with the shelter before his untimely death.

He was only 13 years old when he passed.

“It doesn’t get easier. It just gets different,” Shepherd said.

The family says this year’s honoring was special because Alex’s 8 year old sister, Lily, helped collect cat supplies to donate in her brother’s memory.

“We got a lot of things I didn’t know we were gonna get,” Lily said.

Notes were written, cupcakes were served and pictures were taken at this bittersweet event.

Shepherd’s mom says Sunday’s gathering may be the biggest one they’ve had for Alex on his birthday.

“He’s always there and I feel like he gives me little signs, which I would’ve never believed someone telling me before he died,” said Shepherd.

NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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