Butterfly sculptures are unveiled
May 21, 2016
To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the May 22, 2011, tornado, two butterfly sculptures were unveiled at Freeman Hospital West and Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism. More than 20 large butterfly sculptures have been placed around the Joplin community as a symbol of growth and transformation.

Surrounding the Freeman Butterfly sculpture are (left to right) Lage Grigsby, tornado survivor; Paula F. Baker, Freeman president and chief executive officer; Mason Lillard, tornado survivor; Dr. Raymond Vetsch, Freeman cardiothoracic surgeon.

“No one will forget the aftermath of the May 2011 tornado,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “This butterfly is a reminder that a community can overcome extreme devastation. As our community recovered, we learned we are brave, resilient and generous and can face anything the future presents.”

Mason Lillard, a survivor of the storm, spoke of her journey. Lillard was impaled by a metal rod that entered her upper arm, punctured a lung and exited through her back. She was reunited with the physician who performed life-saving surgery to remove the rod, Dr. Raymond Vetsch, Freeman Cardiothoracic Surgeon.

At Freeman Hospital West, the butterfly, which was painted by artists Percilla Penner and Tricia Courtney, was installed near the Beacon of Hope Tornado Memorial. The memorial was created to serve as a place of reflection. The words compassion, bravery, selflessness, heroism, and dedication are wrapped around the base of the memorial, a reminder of the immeasurable role the medical community played after the storm.

Showing off the Leffen Butterfly sculpture are: (back row, left to right) Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Vice president of clinical services; John Berrey, Quapaw tribe chairman; Blake Bard, Freeman chief development officer (front row, left to right) Mary Parrigon, Ozark Center executive director; Paula F. Baker, Freeman president and chief executive officer; Virginia Leffen; and Kristy Parker, Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism clinical director.

Additionally, Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism unveiled its butterfly sculpture. A donation from Quapaw Tribe and Downstream Casino and Resort, the butterfly is decorated in vibrant oranges and yellow and was inspired by world-renowned autism spokesperson, Temple Grandin.

Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, formerly known as Ozark Center for Autism, was destroyed in the May 22, 2011, tornado. Despite the loss, services resumed in less than one week, and staff operated in temporary facilities until a new building was dedicated in November 2015.

For KOAM-TV's blurb about Ricky Moon's gift of poetry go here.

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