On Sept. 14th, 2021, we lost a beloved member of our local communities. Alex Shively passed away at the age of thirty due to Covid Pneumonia, and his loss is greatly felt throughout Wakarusa, Northwood schools and sports teams, ADEC, by the staff and volunteers of the annual Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival, as well as many other friends and family members.

Alex was an avid bike rider and had ridden bikes since he was five-years old. He and his mother had even participated in ADEC’s annual Ride-A-Bike Fundraiser in 2019 to help raise money for the Day Programs he attended with his friends. The Shively’s also have a long tradition of assisting with the Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival. Recently, a group made up of members of the Board of the Wakarusa Maple Syrup festival, the Wakarusa Chamber of Commerce, and friends and family members of the Shively family got together to try and figure out a way to honor Alex’s memory and show their appreciation and love for his parents, Deb and Steve Shively. Instead of one way, they came up with three.

First, the Festival’s Board decided to make Deb and Steve the Grand Marshall’s of the Festival’s parade. Second, they fulfilled a long-time goal of Deb’s to add an information booth to the yearly Festival. The booth was constructed and will forever be called “The Alex Shively Information Booth.” And finally, to honor Alex’s love of bike riding, the group came together to purchase a bicycle custom-made for adults with disabilities and have gifted it to the Day Programs of ADEC in his memory. The bike is bright yellow, because Alex loved SpongeBob SquarePants, and has a plate on the back that says “Big Al” which was a nickname for Alex.

Deb and Steve were invited to what they thought was a meeting about tractors but turned out to actually be a dinner and dedication ceremony on the evening of Thursday, April 14th. They were surprised by a great many friends and family, and by representatives of ADEC, including CEO Donna Belusar, who were honored to accept the gift of the bike, and to share a little bit about their relationship with Alex and his family throughout his entire life and how Alex was so loved by everyone who met him. It was an emotional evening full of love, friendship, and gratitude. If you would like to attend the Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival, it runs from Friday, April 22 – Sunday, April 24th.