Freeman News

Freeman Parade Grand Marshals are CMN National Champions

November 23, 2021

Mother of Local Twin Brothers Discusses Support Received from CMN

JOPLIN, Mo. – Freeman Health System proudly announces its parade grand marshals – Isaac and Easton Howard. The seven-year-old twins were recently named National Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals® Champions.

“We’re honored to have CMN’s national champions as grand marshals of the Joplin Christmas Parade this year,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “It’s especially fitting because Isaac and Easton have received life-changing services right here at Freeman since they were infants. They’re part our CMN family, and we look forward to seeing them grow and thrive throughout their lives.”

Isaac and Easton will lead the parade in an antique red pick-up truck tying in with this year’s theme – Cruisin’ to Christmas.

“Having the boys be chosen for the parade grand marshals is a great honor,” said LauRae Howard, Isaac and Easton’s mother. “They have been through so much in their lives and being able to take part in events like this is so special for them. I can't wait to see the joy and excitement on their faces. Children's Miracle Network has done so much for our family and community, and it is a privilege to be able to give back and help spread awareness of the wonderful things they do.” 

Freeman is one of 125 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the country, and the Howard boys now represent CMN hospitals nationwide. CMN has helped Isaac and Easton with equipment, nutritional needs and travel expenses since 2014, when they were just five-days-old.

“Children's Miracle Network has helped our family in so many ways,” said LauRae. “They provided gas cards while the boys were in the NICU in St. Louis. They have helped us get a seizure monitor and oxygen monitor for Isaac to help monitor for seizures during his sleep. They provided an adaptive tricycle for Easton to help with his coordination. They provided a blender for us to help prepare Isaac's special dietary needs. They have also provided us with two amazing service dogs for Isaac.”

Their first service dog, Murphy, recently retired and was replaced with Ace, who just finished his training. Isaac has also received services at the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism.

“Because the Joplin Christmas parade benefits our local Children’s Miracle Network, I can’t think of a more fitting connection than to have Isaac and Easton, along with their service dog Ace, as the Grand Marshals for this year’s parade,” said Ryan Melton, Freeman Interim Executive Director of Development.

This year marks the return to a traditional parade down Joplin’s Main Street at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, December 7. The parade route starts at 15th and Main Street and ends at 3rd Street. Freeman parade coordinators said November 28 is the deadline for registration of band and float entries. Businesses, charities, schools and community groups are encouraged to participate.

Funds generated by the 2021 Joplin Christmas Parade will go to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which provides assistance to children from birth to 21 years of age in a 14-county area in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. All money raised stays local, helping children with medical needs and their families. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals helps furnish and maintain Freeman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, provides funding for local community organizations’ pediatric needs and provides pediatric emergency equipment for area agencies.



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 2020, 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 named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020-2021. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart 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