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Joplin family plans bake sale to benefit Leffen Center for Autism

Joplin Globe - 3/18/2021

Mar. 18—A Joplin mother and her young son are planning a bake sale this weekend to benefit scholarships for families to attend the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism.

The Team Jaxon bake sale will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Leffen Center, 2808 S. Picher Ave. in Joplin. A variety of baked goods and sweets will be available for purchase, organizer Stormy Anderson said.

The bake sale is in honor of Anderson's 6-year-old son, Jaxon, who was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and as a toddler was nonverbal and had problems with his behavior and communication.

After the family enrolled Jaxon at the Leffen Center on a scholarship when he was 4 1/2, the boy changed drastically, his mother said.

"Since then, he has come such a long way," Anderson said. "He's more vocal, he's making lots of sounds and he says about 15 words. He has little to no behavior (problems), and he loves learning."

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools and businesses were closed to curb the virus's spread, Leffen Center staff would work with Jaxon through video chat platforms and would drive by the family's house to wave at him, Anderson said.

"They became like family," she said.

Jaxon will transition out of the Leffen Center into public school this fall. But Anderson wants other families to be able to receive services there if needed. Her goal is to raise $1,000 through this weekend's bake sale — approximately the amount her family raised through a similar event last year.

"I thought that since this school has been so amazing for him, why not fundraise and give back?" she said.

The Andersons also are gearing up for the 14th annual Walk for Autism Awareness, which has joined with the Freeman Family 5K this year to raise funds to support program development and scholarship assistance at the Leffen Center. The 1-mile walk and 5K run will take place on April 24. Register at

The Leffen Center provides diagnostic, treatment and education services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Its scholarship program helps families that would otherwise not be able to enroll and assists several out-of-state enrollment slots each year.


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