Freeman 5K and Walk for Autism Awareness Kicks Off

Team Registration Begins for Prehistoric Theme

(Joplin, MO) – Rampaging dinosaurs — in the form of costumed Remi and Houston Edgerton and parents David and Stephanie — unveiled the theme for the Freeman Health System’s 2024 5K and 17th Annual Walk for Autism — “Walk, Run & Roar!”

The family of four — dubbed “Team Houston” — was the top fundraising and largest team from last year’s walk and were chosen to announce the prehistoric theme, which was met with applause and cheers during the registration kick-off event held Tuesday afternoon.

Called an “amazing community event” by Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism Interim Director Teresa Rosebrough-Sneed, the two combined events will take place on Saturday, April 20.

“It’s a great event because not only can you rely on us for the services, but you can rely on this fun event that all families are able to participate in — wholly,” she said.

The mile-long walk and certified 5K will raise funds that support program development and scholarship assistance at the Leffen Center. It also helps educate the public about autism spectrum disorder, in which more than 5.4 million adults in the nation, or 2.2% of the population, are on the autism spectrum. Overall, the Leffen Center — located at 2808 S. Picher Ave. — provides diagnostic, treatment and educational services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Area residents can register for the walk or 5K as individuals, they can join a team or create a new one. Themed T-shirts and costumes are encouraged. Food trucks, vendors, basket raffles and prizes will be on-hand during the event. Fun prizes were also announced for the top three family teams that raise the most money, including a first-place prize, a northwest Arkansas-based staycation.

“Your support will help with program development and to help individuals who might not otherwise be able to afford these life-changing services,” Rosebrough-Sneed said.

Individuals and teams may register for the 5K or walk here or call 417.347.7850 for additional information.

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. 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


Kevin McClintock, Media Relations Coordinator
Freeman Health System

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