We are proud to present our latest video, titled “The Joplin Effect.” Shot, edited and produced by Springfield’s Brandon Goodwin for CFO, it chronicles the recovery and resilience of the people of Joplin in the year since the May 22, 2011 tornado. We hope you enjoy it.
On the first anniversary of the May 22, 2011 tornado that devastated Joplin, about 8,000 people flooded the streets of the city and Cunningham Park for an emotional remembrance of the day and the people they lost.
And in Springfield, a smaller group of people helped Joplin in a more roundabout way. Rock-band Incubus, who played Drury University’s O’Reilly Family Event Center that very night, had put a number of meet-and-greet 0pportunities up for auction on eBay, with nearly $3,000 in proceeds going to the CFO’s Joplin Recovery Fund. The band’s Make Yourself Foundation – named after its breakthrough album – does this for almost every concert, and representatives felt playing on the anniversary of the tornado, with the show close to Joplin, was the right fit.
“We have a unique and blessed opportunity to share music with people and occasionally the need arises to share more than sound!” lead singer Brandon Boyd said. “Having seen the now infamous footage of that fateful day in Joplin, we just felt like it was a wonderful chance to bring some light into an otherwise tragic situation. It is our pleasure to be of service here and we are so looking forward to bringing music to you guys as well! Thank you for the opportunity!”
On the night of the concert, more than two dozen Incubus diehards assembled for the meet-and-greet and autograph session, which included a photo with band members. As they waited for sound-check to end (they also got first admission to the arena when the gates opened), they talked about the auction and the tornado’s anniversary.
Karl Steinlage, from St. Louis, had purchased the meet-and-greet tickets for his brother and sister, twins Curtis and Margo, for their birthday, though he didn’t have a pass for himself. The fact that the money went to help Joplin only made the decision easier. “Joplin has been everywhere,” said Curtis Steinlage. “Even in St. Louis, news of it was everywhere, and you head about it on the radio. It’s neat that they did this.”
Meredith, who also drove down from St. Louis, appreciated the Joplin donation as well. “It made it very personal. You see (the Make Yourself Foundation) giving to all of these big charities, so it was really cool that this went to something so local and close to home.”
During the meet-and-greet there was a lot of excitement; Incubus has one of the more avid followings of bands from its era, and many fans were meeting the guys for the very first time.
Among them was Ashley Erikson, who had graduated from Missouri Southern State University, in Joplin, only three days earlier. She and her friend had planned to go to the walk and memorial in Cunningham Park, but when her friend purchased the concert and meet-and-greet tickets for her instead, she felt it was a way to honor and help Joplin, and have fun at the same time.
“I want to remember, but I don’t want to be sad,” she said. “There’s no point when you can (help out and still) celebrate.”
The Joplin tornado anniversary events that brought closure to the year of “firsts” will make the “seconds” easier, survivor Mark Norton remarked as he joined the thousands who gathered under the cloudless sky at Cunningham Park on Tuesday.
For Norton, the anniversary of his son Will’s death included a private meeting with President Obama before Joplin High’s commencement Monday and the honor of presenting the Class of 2011’s mementos for the time capsule filled Tuesday, intended to be opened on May 22, 2061.
The Norton family, which has a scholarship fund honoring Will established at the CFO, was first profiled in the fall 2011 newsletter about the horrific experience of searching for their newly graduated son for a week after the tornado as Mark was hospitalized with massive injuries. This year’s scholarship was awarded to Blake Putnam, a Joplin High senior interested in pursuing film and media as Will had intended to do.
Tuesday’s events balanced reflection on the past with hope for the future symbolized by the time capsule, a tree planting, song, words of encouragement, and the dedication of the destroyed St. John’s Hospital land for a new elementary school, a theater, a chapel and a memorial.
“This was your defining moment,” Convoy of Hope Founder Hal Donaldson told the 8,000 gathered. “In the decades to come, it will be said the foundation of Joplin, Missouri, was the courage and resiliency of its citizens.”
City Manager Mark Rohr said 67 percent of 7,500 homes damaged or destroyed are already under permit, being built, repaired or are occupied. He said Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce records show 85 percent of 550 affected businesses are either open or in process of being rebuilt.
“You are part of the miracle of the human spirit,” he said.
The City of Joplin is accepting applications through Friday for the first grants to be awarded by the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund, one of 22 established at the CFO and its Joplin-based affiliate, the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri, Inc. In all, generous donors have contributed $9.4 million to those funds. For more information, visit: www.joplinrecoveryfund.org.