Freeman News

Clay shooting competition will benefit Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism

September 25, 2014

Clays for a Cause, a clay shooting competition to benefit Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, will be held Saturday, October 4, at Claythorne Lodge in Columbus, Kan.

Clays for a Cause, a clay shooting competition to benefit Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, will be held Saturday, October 4, at Claythorne Lodge in Columbus, Kan. The tournament begins at 9:30 am with a shotgun start at the lodge at 1329 NW 100th St., with registration beginning at 8 am.

Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism Clinical Director Kristy Parker said proceeds from the event will be used to purchase playground equipment for the new center being constructed at 2808 S. Picher Ave. The center, along with teaching supplies, office equipment, toys and playground equipment, were destroyed in the tornado that struck Joplin May 22, 2011, and has been operating from a temporary location for the past three years. 

Bill and Virginia Leffen pledged a $3 million gift to help rebuild a new permanent facility to continue care for the more than 350 students receiving therapy at the center. The new center will feature mock home environment rooms, a small theater, a kitchen for cooking classes, a multipurpose therapeutic gym to enhance physical activity, therapy and development of life skills; an activity room, observation areas, a calm room and ample space for individualized therapy, space for support group and a safe shelter for severe weather.

Parker said the staff at the center is excited about the new center and the opportunity it will give them enhance care for the children. “Without this center, children with autism had to travel great distances to receive treatment or go without. Our nationally recognized program is truly making a difference in the lives of these children and their families,” Parker said. “When the center was destroyed, we knew we had to find a new location right away so we could continue the progress we were making. The playground equipment will give the children at the center an opportunity to learn play skills, gross motor skills and peer interaction. Having this equipment available is an integral part of their therapy at the center.”

Clays for a Cause participants will compete in teams of four and can sign up as a team or as individuals and be assigned to teams. All competitors should bring their own shotguns, ammunition and protective eyewear. Clays and protective ear wear will be provided. Awards will be presented in team and individual categories. The $80 entry fee includes lunch and a t-shirt. Extra lunch tickets for those not participating in the competition are $15.

In addition to the shooting competition, there will be a silent auction for a barbecue grill, leaf blower, chainsaw and other items, a gun raffle and refreshments. Tickets for the gun raffle are available at Leffen Center for Autism, 3230 Wisconsin Ave., Suite D, and Steve’s Trading Post, 4324 S. Main St., Joplin. Participants do not need to be present to win.

Sponsorships are also available for those who would like to contribute, but are unable to attend the event. For more information about sponsorships or the clay shooting competition, contact Courtney Bay, 417.347.7725.

About Freeman Health System
Locally owned and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System has earned a number of US News & World Report distinctions – Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri, #4 hospital in the state, and High Performing status in seven specialties. The 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. A not-for-profit health system, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services, and women’s services and has more than 300 physicians on staff. For more information, visit or or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at