Freeman News

Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism Receives $20,000 Donation

August 15, 2017

Active Lifestyle Events Inc. presents final installment of $100,000 pledge.

Active Lifestyle Events Inc. presented a check for $20,000 to Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism. It is the final installment of a $100,000 pledge. The gift helped construct two playgrounds with specialized play equipment and a picnic area at the center. Funds were raised during the annual Joplin Memorial Marathon, which was created to honor the 161 people who died in the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Active Lifestyle Events is a 501(c)3 organization committed to improving the quality of life of residents in the four-state area by funding and hosting healthy programs and events. As the founder of the Joplin Memorial Marathon, Active Lifestyle Events is dedicated to supporting tornado recovery through nonprofit organizations assisting with rebuilding efforts.

Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, formerly known as Ozark Center for Autism, was destroyed in the tornado. The center operated out of temporary facilities until a new building was completed in November 2015.

Developed in consultation with the Cleveland Clinic Autism Consulting Group, Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism provides Applied Behavior Analysis, an intensive therapy proven to unlock parts of the brain that control function such as language, emotion, social skills and interest. In 2010, a Special Education Center was created, expanding therapy services to students from kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2011, the center established the Four State’s first Autism Diagnostic Team, which offers the resources of an entire team of diagnostic professionals.

(left to right) Bobby Ballard, Active Lifestyle Events Board Member; Alan Cook, Active Lifestyle Events Board Member; Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer; Audie Dennis, Active Lifestyle Events President; Kristy Parker, Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism Clinical Director

About Ozark Center

An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Mo., Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit or call 417.347.7600.

About Freeman Health System

Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2017, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report ranked Freeman one of the top Hospitals in Southwest Missouri more than five years in a row, and the Leapfrog Group awarded Freeman the highest grade possible in the Spring 2017 Hospital Patient Safety Score. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 60 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit, or follow Freeman at Follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at