Jeremy Branson, the son of fallen hero, Officer James Branson, Jr., EOW 3/9/03, is about to start his senior year at Saint Louis University. Jeremy is majoring in Psychology with a minor in African Studies and pre-law. Upon graduation, he plans to attend the Howard University School of Law. Jeremy recently went on an eye-opening tour over spring break. When we picture a college spring break, most of us think of a non-stop party. Jeremy and some fellow students spent their break in a much different manner.
Every year since 2015, students at Saint Louis University are invited to embark upon an incredible journey. Over spring break, students travel to various landmarks that were instrumental in the modern civil rights movement. The group visited 14 of these historic locations, including the National Civil Rights Museum, the Rosa Parks Museum, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Slavery Museum.
When asked to describe the trip, Jeremy said, “The experience was a great opportunity for me to learn, grow, and understand the history that shaped the lives of African Americans today. From the moment I left the campus of Saint Louis University, I was filled with joy and aspiration. The trip attendees were very diverse, so I got a chance to see how my history is appreciated from those who do not look like me.”
Speaking about the most memorable part of the tour, Jeremy says, “The trip was full of surprises, and in Selma was probably where I had the most fun, where we did a slave simulation taking us from the coast of Africa down the middle passage to the West Indies and Virginia. The students had no idea that this was going to happen, and it was very hands on. When we arrived at the facility, our tour guide began yelling at us, ‘Line up! Men on the right side and women on the left!’ We were treated as if we were slaves. The feelings of hopelessness and uncertainty that overtook me was sobering. Even as a simulation that I knew was staged, it still resonated deeply with me. I began to empathize and sympathize, and I became pensive when I thought of how much harsher this was for my ancestors. The spontaneity of this experience took me to a place mentally that I greatly appreciated. Besides not being dressed as such, I did feel, slightly, the mental state of a slave. The experience gave me all I was hoping for and more”.
The fight for equality is something Jeremy plans to continue to champion on the SLU campus. Jeremy will serve as the President of the African American Society at SLU for the 2017/2018 school year. He plans “to be an activist while learning about others and their struggles”.
When asked what he wished people knew about The BackStoppers, Jeremy told us, “This organization has been very key in my life. From the fall of my father, you guys stepped in and made sure that my mother, my siblings, and I were well taken care of. I cannot thank you enough for your recognition of us and my father. This organization thrives on donations from individuals who care and who understand. I appreciate that my dad’s legacy lives on considering everything that BackStoppers does. He will truly never be forgotten, and I will do everything I can to make sure that I do my part in The BackStoppers organization”.
We would like to greatly thank Jeremy for sharing his experiences with us! Good luck with all your future endeavors. We are so proud of all you have accomplished and look forward to all your future holds.
The BackStoppers Education Fund ensures that children of fallen first responders will have access to financial resources to pursue educational opportunities, making experiences such as Jeremy Branson’s at St. Louis University possible. We have made a commitment on behalf of the entire community to provide for the future security and education of the families we serve.
The Warren County BackStoppers Committee presented The BackStoppers, Inc. a $70,000 check! This dedicated group of Warren County first responders and community leaders have presented BackStoppers with $380,000 within the last seven years. We are extremely grateful for the incredible support and dedication to the our fallen heroes that this group has displayed. Thank you, Warren County!Read More
Ralph Tatoian, Jr. has started his journey of service by recently graduating Basic Training at, “Sand Hill” Fort Benning, Georgia. He is continuing to display the bravery and courage shown by his father, Trooper Ralph Tatoian of Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C, EOW 4/20/2005. A life of serving and protecting this community and the nation is a legacy that Ralph has decided to carry on.
Through the incredible challenges of Basic Training, Ralph has been able to successfully complete this chapter of his military career. Graduating at Fort Benning with the Alpha Company 2nd Battalion 3rd Infantry Regiment, Ralph reflects on the last few months and graduating, “It was probably the proudest I have been in my life. After Basic Training, there is a large mixture of pride in what you accomplished mixed with relief that you don’t have to be there anymore.”
Currently, Ralph is advancing in his career at Fort Meyer in Arlington, Virginia where he is continuing his job training as a U.S. Army Infantryman in the Hotel Company, 1st Battalion 3rd Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard”. This new chapter has proven to bring new trials and emotions. As Ralph says, “It’s a mixture of feelings. Every morning it’s a struggle to drag myself out of bed early, but when I go out and help render final respects to those we bury, or when I’m out training as an infantryman, I feel very proud to know I get to put on my uniform and go out and do my job like my father did as a Trooper”.
The future holds promise for Ralph. When his initial contract is complete, he plans on coming back to Missouri to re-enlist in the Missouri National Guard. From one generation to the next, he also has a dream of pursuing a career in law enforcement. Along with his military and law enforcement career plans, Ralph also displays an interest in music. Leading a legacy of honor and strength has been demonstrated by Ralph, and his commitment to his country and community is evident.
Remembering the time in Ralph’s life when his father was killed in the line of duty, he recalls The BackStoppers being there for him and his family. “To me, BackStoppers is probably the most comforting thing to a family after they have lost a loved one, obviously financially but more so in the support you get. Lots of people will give you very sincere sympathy when tragedy strikes, but eventually they have to return to their everyday lives. The BackStoppers is always there supporting you and, when you may feel doubt about it, showing you that people really care about the sacrifice your loved one made.”
The BackStoppers helps children of fallen heroes, like Ralph, achieve their goals and dreams by providing financial assistance and support. Speaking about how we help, Ralph said, “I’m just so appreciative of what you all do and that The BackStoppers has helped so many families in so many ways. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for many families of survivors without the support that The BackStoppers gives”.Read More
A group of 22 dedicated students from Miriam School chose to give back to the BackStoppers through their Service and Gratitude service project. Lead by their teachers, Andrea Rosenfeld and Candi Chiburisa, these students made a plan to sell beaded keychains at the school to show their gratitude to St. Louis area first responders, families and especially their children. Miriam School’s mission statement, ” to encourage children with complex learning disabilities to recognize and successfully meet their potential,”
inspired this group to give their keychain sale proceeds to the BackStoppers Education Fund. With a bead shop open for business, charging $1 per beaded keychain and taking custom orders, these students raised over $200 towards the Education Fund. We are incredibly grateful for this support from this young group, and for their dedication to our mission.
One of the most important commitments The BackStoppers makes to survivor families is an assurance that their children will be able to afford whatever educational opportunities they have or that their parents had planned for them. Meeting these educational costs is often one of the major expenses for surviving families, and one of the most important. Because of those supporting our Education Fund, we are able to provide future security and education of the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty.
Click here to learn more about our Education FundRead More
The BackStoppers is now assisting the family of Captain John Kemper of the St. Louis Fire Department who died in the line of duty on July 12, 2017 as a result of injuries sustained battling a structural fire on July 5, 2017.
Capt. Kemper, who was 59-years old, was a 24-year veteran of the St. Louis Fire Department, serving as captain for nearly 10 years. He leaves behind his wife and adult daughter. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and fellow firefighters and co-workers.
Fire Captain John Kemper
St. Louis Fire Department
With the addition of the family of Capt. John Kemper, we are now assisting 82 families with 66 dependent children and have assisted 161 families since 1959.
The BackStoppers’ assistance is immediate and ongoing. Following the death of a firefighter, his or her family receives a check for $5,000 to be used in whatever way they need.
Within a few weeks, our representatives meet with the surviving spouse to identify the family’s other financial obligations, eliminate the family’s debt, and provide ongoing support for education and other extraordinary expenses.
We recognize the tremendous sacrifices that public servants make every day when they go to work. We understand the burdens placed on surviving spouses and children when tragedies occur. We believe our community has an obligation to care for the loved ones of those who have protected us. We accept the responsibility to make that happen. Join us in our cause. Help us provide life-long support for families of fallen heroes by donating or joining online or by mail to the address below.
The BackStoppers, Inc.
PO Box 795168
Saint Louis, MO 63179-0700
Attention all people who like fun, food, and friends! Ballpark Village is bringing back Pig & Swig BBQ festival Saturday, June 17th from 12-7pm in the heart of downtown St. Louis and now it’s free! That’s right, this fun festival will feature live music, 8 of the best St. Louis barbecue vendors, multiple whiskey brands, premium cigars from the Cigar Box, and more! Pig & Swig is the perfect way to kick off Father’s Day Weekend.
Admission to this festival is free with food and beverages available for purchase onsite. Vendors include: Salt + Smoke, Sugarfire, PM BBQ, Iron Barley, Bootleggin’ BBQ, Doc’s Smokehouse, Super Smokers, Beast Craft BBQ Co., & more! Live music from Bobby Ford and Mack’s Creek and additional shopping and food vendors will be onsite!PLUS 60 BBQ vendors will be competing in 5 categories to win $10,000 in total prizes. Free and all ages welcome! Ballpark Village’s very own Bobby Ford will kick-off the day on the Busch II Infield with headliner Mack’s Creek.
VIP option is available for purchase $30 in advance / $35 day of. This VIP ticket Saturday, June 17th from 12pm – 7pm includes two complimentary beverages, exclusive BBQ and whiskey samples throughout the day, private restrooms, lots of seating and shade, and private bar! This option is available for guests 21+.
For guests interested, there is also a VIP Pig & Swig kick-off Friday, June 16th 6PM-9PM on the rooftop deck of the Budweiser Brew House with panoramic views of the city and into Busch Stadium. VIP ticket includes BBQ and whiskey samples, ShockTop all-inclusive package, and BBQ demonstrations on Napolean Grills.
Don’t miss this fun filled event, and help support The BackStoppers! For more information please visit here.
The BackStoppers is solely a recipient of the proceeds and not an organizer of the event
*Photo Credit to Ballpark VillageRead More
The City of Clayton hosted the Battle of the Badges BBQ Event benefiting The BackStoppers, Inc. and Responder Rescue, Inc. with great success! This event featured twelve police and fire departments from all over the area that participated in a friendly competition where their grilling skills were put to the test. Along with award worthy BBQ grilled by first responders, Weber Grill Restaurant, located in Clayton, provided sides as well as the charcoal and wood used during the grilling competition. Whiskey Morning was also there to contribute tunes for the evening.
This year’s event generated $4, 112.28 for The BackStoppers, Inc. and $4,012.28 for Responder Rescue, Inc. What started as a small community BBQ has turned into an incredible event raising over $8,000 for those that serve and protect the community.
Thank you for the first responders that gave their time for the competition. Thank you to all those that helped make this event possible and a big thanks to those that attended and made the event such a success. We greatly appreciate your support that helps the families of those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety. Thank you!
*Photo Credit: West End World and The City of ClaytonRead More
Our Online Store is open for business!
Looking to support The BackStoppers mission in a brand new way? We are pleased to announce the launch of our online store! Now you can proudly show your support of BackStoppers with our new and exciting merchandise. Items include logoed men’s and women’s T-shirts, golf shirts, hats, drinkware, and more. Not only will your purchase help us assist families of fallen heroes, but you will help us raise awareness of our cause by sporting your new gear. Visit BackStoppers.org, click on “Store”, and shop to support our mission today.Read More
Give STL Day 2017 was a great success! The community came together and surpassed our goal of $1,500, raising a total $2,721!
We would like to thank every donor for your contribution and support of our fallen first responders. We would also like to give a special thanks to Officer Joe Strehl for taking the time to help us spread the word on Give STL Day.
We look forward to another outstanding outcome next year!