The Joplin Daybreak Rotary Club on Monday marked 30 years of service in the community with the installation of a new bronze statue in the Mercy Park Sculpture Garden, where it joins a dozen other pieces depicting nature and wildlife.

The addition, “River Motion,” created by artist Tim Cherry, of Branson, depicts a leaping fish. The Joplin Daybreak Rotary Club raised the funds for the statue in observance of a milestone last March.

“This is a commemoration of Daybreak’s 30-year anniversary, which was last year,” said Laurie Delano, past president and Daybreak Rotary member. “That’s what got us started on the (‘River Motion’) project.”

Mercy Park is located at 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard, site of the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which was destroyed in the May 2011 tornado.

Barbara Hicklin, a member of the Daybreak club, said it’s the first of many sculptures to be donated on behalf of the organization.

“This is only the beginning,” she said. “We chose the fish because Rotary has a focus on water projects around the world, and we decided that it fit in with that idea.”

Daybreak Rotary was admitted into membership in Rotary International on March 11, 1991, with 26 local members and has grown to 54 members today.

The club has helped launch and support many local organizations and efforts, including Ronald McDonald Charities of the Four States, the trails at Wildcat Glades, the Miracle League of Joplin, the school gardens that originated at West Central Elementary School and, most recently, the sculpture garden. Internationally, the club has helped provide wheelchairs and medical supplies abroad and solar lights to African communities.

Established in 2019, the sculpture garden is the result of a joint effort of the Rotary Club of Joplin and the Joplin Daybreak Rotary. It was inspired by the Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland, Colorado, which has more than 100 bronze sculptures on permanent display in an outdoor setting.

“River Motion” is located near the entrance of the boardwalk on the far side of the lake. The sculpture, without its concrete base, is 46 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds.

“It’s beautiful, and there’s a lot more color to it than what we saw in photos,” said Annette Thurston, a Daybreak Rotary member.

R.E. Smith Construction Co. in Joplin donated the costs of the installation of “River Motion.” The 300-pound concrete base was added last week. The construction crew lowered the fish onto its base, where the bolts were sealed with epoxy, early Monday morning. Final installation took about 30 seconds.

Dave Smith, vice president of R.E. Smith Construction Co. and a Daybreak Rotary member, said it was an honor to help add a sculpture in Mercy Park, which the company constructed.

“I’m glad to the see the park used so much by the citizens of the town,” he said. “Every time I come by here, there’s someone walking on the trails, and it’s a beautiful addition to our city.”

This is the second sculpture in the park created by Cherry, who also created a 400-pound bronze sculpture called, “Rabbit Reach,” at the start of the park’s walking trail. It was installed in 2019.

To see the full list of sculptures, visit

Source: Kimberly Barker | The Joplin Glob

Photo: Roger Nomer