Joplin Globe: First day of school welcomes triplets born just before tornado
Nearly from the day they were born, life greeted Addison, Reagan and Lauren Harper with challenges. Just five days after the Joplin triplets came into the world — eight weeks early and weighing a combined 6 pounds — Joplin's 2011 EF5 tornado destroyed their home.
The girls had health problems that forced them to remain in the hospital long after their birth. Lauren, in fact, had multiple surgeries for congenital heart disease and still has a pacemaker.
But on Thursday, the sisters, now 6, greeted their first day of school with confidence, excitement and plenty of giggles.
Story by Jordan Larimore, photo by Laurie Sisk
The family arrived at 7 a.m. at Jefferson Elementary School, 130 S. McKinley Ave., in Joplin. The triplets filed out of their mom's minivan, wearing matching T-shirts that proclaimed their triumphant presence and perhaps their trying journey to reach the day.
"Hello, Kindergarten," each girl's shirt read.
"I'm kind of envious of them because of how strong they are," said the girls' mother, Jayme Harper. "Because of where they started and how they've gotten through it. You know, it just amazes me, the strength these little girls have. Whenever you think about their first Thanksgiving, it was at Children's Mercy (Hospital in Kansas City)."
The Harper triplets were among thousands of Joplin youngsters kicking off the first day of the 2017-18 academic year for the Joplin School District.
Read the full story via the Joplin Globe.
Learn more about the region's only Level IV NICU at Children's Mercy.
Read about the Ward Family Heart Center at Children's Mercy.