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History in the Making: Guns ‘N Hoses 2017

Guns ‘N Hoses has once again broken a record in their 31-year history, raising $700,000 for BackStoppers! Since 1987, Budweiser Guns ‘N Hoses has contributed $6.8 million to the BackStoppers mission. These staggering numbers are not possible without the help and dedication of those that work all year round to make this event such a success. The Guns ‘N Hoses committee who organizes the event every year, the first responders that take the time and dedication to train and compete, the sponsors that give so generously to support the work of our mission, and the volunteers that give hours of hard work are all part of what makes this Thanksgiving Eve tradition so special.

These funds will provide assistance to the approximately 80 families with 65 dependent children we currently assist. The love and support from the community shows through this incredible commitment to our mission of helping families of first responders when tragedy strikes.

Our most sincere thanks to every single person who made this possible. Guns ‘N Hoses, we’re excited for what the 32nd Annual Event has in store. Thank you for 30th years of legendary support!

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Spirit of St. Louis Ends Strong

The Spirit of St. Louis Campaign has officially concluded with a lucky winner! Since November, the community has come together in the spirit of giving and has supported the mission of BackStoppers, Variety the Children’s Charity, and St. Louis Area Foodbank. A $10 donation to any of the three charities was entered into a drawing to win a car, truck or SUV.

The total amount raised was over $170,000 including a generous donation from Bommarito Automotive  Group of $50,000! The winner was Jason Woodworth, which was announced during the St. Louis Auto Show.

We would like to thank Fox 2 and KPLR 11 and Bommarito Automotive Group for their generosity and commitment to the community. We are incredibly grateful for everyone that donated to BackStoppers in the spirit of giving, community, and St. Louis.

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From a Competitive Training Program to a Fulfilling Career

You met Whitney Neal, daughter of St. Louis County Police Detective Willie Neal, Jr., EOW 1/29/97, last year. When Whitney was featured in the June 2016 issue of The BackStoppers newsletter, she was enrolled in a competitive Pathologists’ Assistant program and looking ahead to her dream career. Since then, Whitney has completed the program, passed the certification exam, acquired a job at a hospital, and already been promoted to a lead position. She’s very happy in her new fulfilling career, learning while teaching and making a difference in patients’ lives.  

 

Now a Certified Pathologists’ Assistant, Whitney works at a large hospital that she says “offers a nice variety of things to do. I perform autopsies, help run brain conferences, and do gross dissections and dictations on a large variety of cases, some of which can be very complicated”. As she planned while studying in the program, she now works directly with Pathologists’ Assistant students. “So, I am learning a lot while teaching,” she says.

 

Whitney is also helping a lot. By helping Pathologists reach a diagnosis, she’s also helping clinicians to decide the best treatment options, which leads to the best overall patient care. “It feels good to know that you are making a difference in patients’ and their families’ lives, even if it isn’t as direct as other medical professionals. I enjoy being in the background because helping patients isn’t about the recognition for me,” she says, “I just enjoy knowing that I played a role”.

 

Things are moving quickly for Whitney, and she continues to push toward her goal of becoming an Assistant Director of a Pathologists’ Assistant program who is able to continue practicing as a Pathologists’ Assistant. Great dedication is required to be accepted into the selective program, graduate, and move into such a challenging career. Whitney has shown that dedication, and, thanks to her hard work, is now fulfilling her dream. “I’m really happy to have accomplished this goal that I set for myself, and to have passed my certification exam. It really makes all the hard work worth it.”

 

We’re honored to help children of fallen heroes turn their dreams into a reality. Whitney tells us, “I would not be where I am without all the support from this amazing organization. The BackStoppers has helped make this dream possible.” Our Education Fund ensures that children of fallen first responders will have access to financial resources to pursue elementary, secondary, or post-secondary educational opportunities. Find out more at BackStoppers.org.

 

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Spirit of St. Louis Campaign Kicks Off

It is the season of giving! Fox 2 and KPLR 11 has kicked off the Spirit of St. Louis Campaign in support of BackStoppers, Variety, the Children’s Charity of St. Louis and St. Louis Area Foodbank. Bommarito Automotive Group has teamed up with Fox 2 and KPLR 11 and has provided a car, truck and SUV that will be presented to lucky winners on at the St. Louis Auto Show on January 26th. A ten dollar donation will be the entry to win one of the vehicles.

The morning of the Kick Off came with a surprise from John Bommarito and Chuck Wallis who generously donated $50,000 in support of all three charities.  Joe Strehl, who is the son of Detective Stephen Strehl, EOW 11/19/1993 was there to represent BackStoppers during the live coverage of the Kick Off. 

The Spirit of St. Louis Campaign’s goal is raise $250,000.

Watch the live coverage here.  

Donate Here

 

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Becoming a BackStopper at Ameren

Our friends at the Ameren Corporation are encouraging their employees to support our mission by becoming BackStoppers. The company is organizing an internal campaign whose goal is to generate BackStoppers memberships.

We were honored to attend the launch of the Ameren Member Drive, where passing employees could learn more about what it means to become a BackStopper. Among the guests, were Cindy Ballman, surviving spouse of Officer Tom Ballman who was killed during the tragic Kirkwood City Hall shooting. Also present was  Pippy, a K9 from St. Louis County.  

Tim Reagan who is  on the Board of Directors for BackStoppers, and also head of security at Ameren had this to say about what the BackStoppers means to him:

“During my 35 years with the St. Louis Police Department, 17 St. Louis Metropolitan Police Offices were killed in the line-of-duty.  The pain and uncertain future experienced by the families of those officers was heartbreaking. First responders have immense respect for other first responders and for every one of those 17 tragic deaths the BackStoppers was one of the first to respond.  The support the BackStoppers provided to those families in terms of bringing financial certainty cannot be overstated.”

We would like to thank Ameren for their incredible dedication to our mission. These memberships provide unlimited help to the families of our fallen heroes. We could not do what we do without the support from this community.

Become a BackStopper Today.


 

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The Voices of the BackStoppers: Joseph Strehl

Police Officer Joseph Strehl, son of Detective Stephen Strehl, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department/ Drug Enforcement Administration, EOW 11/19/1993, shares why he become a BackStopper.

“While numerous fundraisers and events have a huge impact on the BackStoppers, becoming a member of this organization will have a lasting effect on anyone who wishes support for the families of those who have given their lives in the line of duty. Speaking as a family member who has received aid from the BackStoppers for over 23 years, I can tell you that I am humbled every time someone comes up to me and says that they are a BackStopper. Especially if I walk into a restaurant and see a BackStoppers sticker on their front door, I can’t tell you the feeling I get when I see that a business supports families of first responders. I became a member 2 years ago to give back to this organization that has given so much to my family. By becoming a BackStopper, know that you will always be a part of these families for life.”

We’re excited to announce the 2017 Fall Member Drive! Join or renew during the month of October, and receive new benefits while helping families of fallen heroes. Last year, we provided $3 million in assistance to families of fallen heroes. Now is the time to join. Help ease the suffering of families of the fallen, and become a BackStopper today. 

 

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Woodard’s Annual Raffle for BackStoppers is Back!

Woodard Cleaning and Restoration’s 3rd Annual Raffle for BackStoppers is here! Last year Woodard raised $37,000 for BackStoppers, and this year their goal is to reach $50,000!

 

This incredible is support is made possible by purchasing raffle tickets that are entered to win a number of valuable prizes! The prizes this year are bigger and better than ever! 

Grand Prize: “Beats by Dre” Pill+ Bluetooth Speaker, Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler, Yeti 30oz Stainless Tumbler
1st Prize: 42mm Apple Watch Nike+ & “Beats by Dre” Powerbeats3 Wireless
2nd Prize: $500 Visa Gift Card
3rd Prize: Nexgrill 5-Burner Deluxe Series Gas Grill & $100 Dierbergs Gift Card
4th Prize: Vintage Bottled Wine & Snack Gift Basket
5th Prize: Google Home & Google Nest
6th Prize: GoPro Hero Session

Woodard held a Kick-Off Rally to encourage their employees to support the BackStoppers by selling the raffle tickets. Elizabeth Snyder shared her story with employees, and explained how supporting the BackStoppers makes a difference in the lives of the families of fallen heroes.  To see a live video stream of the event please visit our Facebook page.

Click Here to enter Woodard’s Raffle.

The winners will be announced at 10am on November 17th.
Be sure to visit Woodard’s BackStoppers Fundraising Raffle Drawing for a live video on the day of the drawing.

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Gerding Enterprises Gives Back

Our friends at Gerding Enterprises have shown incredible support to the BackStoppers over the last couple of years. Last year, they held their 1st Annual BackStoppers BBQ which raised over $12,000!  The 2nd Annual BackStoppers BBQ will take place on  October 7th at the VFW in Cedar Hill, Missouri.  

Chuck Gerding shares more about his company and what inspires him to support the BackStoppers.

 

“We have a family owned Aerospace company that was started in 1960 by my parents. Every year we have a company picnic and we do our own cooking for this event. It started out as feeding 20-25 people and has since grown to approximately 300 people per year.

After 911, as with all Americans, it cut me to the core. I was too old to join the service so the only thing I could come up with was to have a custom pit designed and dedicate it to our First Responders and our Veterans. I saw the films of the First Responders charging up to the top of the towers while everyone was running down trying to save their lives. That sight is etched in my mind forever. So I wanted to do something for the men and women who make us safe home and abroad.

I decided to get involved with BackStoppers to do our little part to give back to these heroic people that when asked will always say ‘I was just doing my job’.

God Bless them and their families.”

 

 

We’re excited to announce the 2017 Fall Member Drive! Join or renew during the month of October, and receive new benefits while helping families of fallen heroes.

Last year, we provided $3 million in assistance to families of fallen heroes. Now is the time to join. Help ease the suffering of families of the fallen, and become a BackStopper today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Voices of BackStoppers: Madison Kowalski

Today is the nine-year anniversary of the death of Sgt. Jeffry Kowalski of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, EOW 10/01/08. His daughter, Madison, shares her father’s legacy and how she finds strength after the unimaginable.

“It’s going on 10 years now. A decade. Think of all the milestones and memories you gather during 10 years. You graduate high school, then college, start your adult job, have your own place, meet the man you love and start your life. 10 years of moments filled without the person you love most and who created you– the person who made the absolute best of you, the one who never doubted if you had fallen but instead gave you the strength to get back up, the person you loved more than yourself. My father, Sgt. Jeffry Kowalski (SLMPD) died almost 10 years ago, but it still feels like he was here yesterday.  

I think the biggest reason this void in my life hasn’t been as difficult as others is solely because of the support given through The BackStoppers. They have given me the unwavering support and love I know my father would have given. They displayed loyalty and faith in not only our family but the future success that they knew we could achieve. The BackStoppers supported us and opened their arms before anyone else with no questions asked.

They knew my father’s case was special but realized he died over and over again for the people of Saint Louis when he could have easily walked away. Much like The BackStoppers, my father continued to do what was right with just knowing that the greater good was at stake. The BackStoppers gave us hope for the future and humanity through their numerous acts of kindness. Due to this, I often find myself overwhelmed with gratitude and the sense of wanting to give back to each and every person who donated to this elite organization. Each one of you is the reason I am still standing today, and I can’t thank you enough for supporting not just my family but every surviving family that The BackStoppers supports. Thank you, a million times, over. -With the most humility -Madison A Kowalski”

 

 

The BackStoppers currently assists 82 families with 66 dependent children and has supported 161 families since 1959. Our assistance is immediate and ongoing. The BackStoppers’ mission is to financially assist the families of first responders who die in the line of duty by paying off all debt, assuming financial obligations such as mortgage payments, taxes, providing health and dental insurance, and helping with the costs of elementary, secondary, and college/vocational education. Memberships fund our ongoing assistance and provide you with an easy way to support and grow The BackStoppers. To learn more about becoming a BackStopper please visit http://BackStoppers.org/membership/

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Playing For a Cause: Bridge Haven for BackStoppers

A small but powerful group of supporters, Bridge Haven, has dedicated eight years of support  to the BackStoppers. This year the group raised over $17,000 for BackStoppers. Since 2010 the Bridge Haven group has played for BackStoppers at their Annual Bridge Pro-Am Tournament. The first year they raised $3,500 but as of today they have supported BackStoppers with over $67,000! The tournament this year was held at the St. Louis Bridge Center where there was record breaking bids to play with a Bridge Pro. Not only does St. Louis recognize these Bridge Pros, in 2013 their BackStoppers event was featured in a column of the New York Times! We cannot thank Bridge Haven enough for this incredible dedication of our mission!

Read the New York Times Article Here

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