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Amateur Athlete: Alex Shepherd

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For more on Alex’s story and progress, check out:  https://www.facebook.com/229teamalex

ASHLAND, Ore. — Sports are about overcoming challenges. How athletes deal with those challenges can define who they are on the field, on the court and in life. Two years ago, at the age of ten, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association named Alex Shepherd the fourth best all-around rider for 10-12 year olds in the state.

“He just loved it,” said Dan Shepherd. “He just smiled the whole time and great to see him getting exercise and being with a lot of healthy, happy people.”

A year later, Alex approached a series of challenges far greater than a hill, a jump or a ditch. On April 15, 2013, Alex suffered a seizure.

“I was actually at work that day and Dan was home with Alex, called 911,” said Aushna Shepherd. “They sent him to Rogue Valley Medical Center and did an EEG/CT. They found a lesion in his brain. We didn’t know what it was. Nobody did. Not until after the first surgery, they did a pathology and discovered it was what it was.”

It was cancer. But Alex’s story isn’t about a life-threatening disease dragging him down. It’s more about an enthusiasm and outlook lifting him up.

“I just think anything’s possible,” said Alex. “That’s what I think no matter what.”

“He knows that he’s just going to get through this, finish the chemo and move on,” said Aushna. “He’s talking about being a surgeon again, talking about his future.”

Alex is riding his bike again, and skiing, and at the end of this month, he’s going surfing and paragliding in Hawai’i. All this despite the doctors saying he probably wouldn’t race again.

“I was thinking, ‘What else could I do really?” said Alex. “Like just thinking about other sports that I can do that I would like that the doctors say that I could do.”

All along, Alex knew sports were his outlet. The fact that he still races, skis and surfs helps him keep a positive attitude, which in turn lifts the spirits of those around him.

“I was wondering if he would ever get out of the bed, and two days after his fourth brain surgery, he’s walking with his fifth grade class graduating,” said Aushna. “He is just my hero. He’s so inspiring to me. He’s just amazing.”