The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

May 17, 2012

Family of triplets born before tornado celebrates first year

JOPLIN, Mo. — Things are looking up on Marigold Drive in a subdivision northwest of Joplin.

It’s now home to the Harper triplets, born May 17, 2011, at Freeman Hospital West to Jayme and Chris Harper.

Because they were born eight weeks early, the three faced many long-term health problems.

But it also meant they escaped the EF-5 tornado that bore down on their Jackson Avenue home on May 22 and leveled it, scattering cribs, diapers and new clothes they never had the chance to wear.

Addison, the feisty one at 1.13 pounds, was born first, followed by Lauren, the more laid-back of the three, weighing 2.2 pounds. Reagan, the last to make an appearance, was the biggest at 3.11 pounds.

Joplin’s Ronald McDonald House would become home for the parents for several weeks until they could find and purchase the home on Marigold Drive. It would be months before they would all sleep under its roof for the first time.

In early July, Reagan was the first to leave Freeman, weighing 6.9 pounds. Addison was next on Aug. 11, weighing 5.7 pounds. But Lauren required multiple surgeries at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to correct a congenital heart condition, and she wouldn’t come home for good until December.

In the past year, the triplets did what all babies do: They grew, they cut teeth, they began making sounds.

They also did things most babies don’t: They made weekly trips to Kansas City and Springfield to see medical specialists. Their parents keep a three-ring binder of details related to their care, their medications and their appointments. It is now an inch thick.

They all had speech and physical therapy; Lauren relied on a pacemaker and a feeding tube.

Given their most unusual first year, it was fitting that on Thursday, the triplets celebrated their first birthday in a most unusual way. The family members made the rounds to Health Essentials, a medical supply company they came to rely on for their daily needs; the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Freeman, where the babies spent months in recovery; and the Ronald McDonald House.

“You get to know them so well,” Jayme Harper said of those who have helped the family. “They became an extended part of us, and we wanted to show everyone how much the girls have grown and to tell them how much we appreciate all they’ve done for us.”

And then the girls returned home to a birthday present like no other: Joplin Pool & Spa installed an 18-foot-round, above-ground pool in the family’s backyard to accommodate the triplets’ ongoing physical therapy needs.

Text Only
May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

  • Issues prompt pair to seek help from city; allocations approved for repairs in tornado zone

    Two people spoke to the Joplin City Council on Monday night about issues they would like the city government to address. Elizabeth Clement, a Neosho resident who works in Joplin, asked the city to operate more surveillance in parking lots because of the number of cars stolen. She said her car was stolen from the parking lot at Northpark Mall and used in robberies.

    April 7, 2014

  • National institute releases final report on Joplin tornado

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Friday released a final report into the technical investigation of the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin — the deadliest tornado in the United States in the 64 years that official records have been kept.

    March 28, 2014

  • r031814tornadofunds2.jpg Local tornado fund board cites appreciation, accomplishments

    The 991 donations ranged from $1 to $119,000. They came from all over the world. On Tuesday, the managers of the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund gave an accounting of how those donations, which totaled about $995,950 with interest, were given in 41 grants, recipients of which included 27 local agencies.

    March 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dan Riddell 0604013.jpg Farmers Insurance extends tornado recovery commitment

    After investments that included stationing a company executive in Joplin for eight months last year, officials with Farmers Insurance said the company will continue its post-tornado commitment to Joplin in 2014. “We’re going to stay until the end,” said Doris Dunn, director of community relations for the company, on Wednesday. “That includes sending in another 100-plus volunteers and making some additional financial investments.”

    February 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • r021714rescuedog.jpg Author prepares for release of children’s book featuring heroic Joplin rescue dog

    Carolyn Mueller is both a dog lover and a storyteller. So when she got the opportunity to write a story about a Joplin dog named Lily who helped search for survivors after the May 2011 tornado, she jumped on it. “Dogs like Lily can be heroes, too,” she said.

    February 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • VIDEO: Lost photos claim day to be held at museum

    National Disaster Photo Rescue and the Joplin Museum Complex have scheduled a public viewing and photo claim day for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the museum complex in Schifferdecker Park. The project, originally known as Lost Photos of Joplin, was organized in the weeks after the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado to reunite storm victims with photos displaced by the storm.

    February 4, 2014

  • Building-permit total since tornado nears $1 billion

    The building of new homes in Joplin continues at an average pace of 16 to 18 per month, according to a building permit report released for December by the city of Joplin. Eighteen building permits for new homes were issued in both November and December. In fiscal year 2013, permits for new homes averaged more than 16 per month.

    January 31, 2014

Purchase Globe Photos


Featured Ads
Facebook
Tornado: Multimedia coverage
Tornado: Obituaries
Tornado: Columns
Tornado: Mike Pound
Tornado: Lists of missing, fatalities & relief
Tornado: Donate & volunteer
Tornado: Resources & relief