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News - The BackStoppers, Inc.

Kiddie Academy Makes a Big Difference

Our little friends at Kiddie Academy in O’Fallon made a big difference when they presented BackStoppers with a check of $1,000 from their Student Art Show. We were honored to accept this generous donation. We would like to thank the staff at Kiddie Academy for their diligent and hard work that went into the Art Show, the parents of the students for giving so generously toward our mission and the students who created the art to support our community. A special thanks to the Wentzville Fire Department and O’Fallon Police Department for taking the time to brighten the students’ day!

We could not do what we do without the continued support from the community. Every single donation is a vital part of carrying out our mission of assisting families of fallen first responders. To learn more about how you can make a difference visit: http://backstoppers.org/

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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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First and Goal

Like many kids, Cole Ziegler, son of fallen hero Deputy Sheriff Steven Ziegler, EOW 09/30/01, dreamed of playing football. He has loved the sport since he was old enough to catch a football, and attended every high school game he could while in grade school. In fact, as soon as Cole’s parents, Racheal and Steven, found out they were having a boy, Steven ran out and bought a football. In hindsight, it was the perfect purchase.

Cole, who just finished his junior season, is currently a star wide receiver and defensive back for the North County High School Raiders. Cole, who also plays baseball and runs track, has already been selected for the Raider Hall of Fame. The Raiders had their best season in many years and finished 9-3. On playing the sport, Cole says, “Football has given me an opportunity to form a brotherhood with my teammates.  We truly are a family.  Football has given me structure. It has taught me to be more responsible.  You give 110% every time you’re on that field, practice or game time”. Cole hopes to continue playing football at the collegiate level.

Cole wears the same number that his father wore: 24. Football is not the only passion he shares with his late father. Cole hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree, he plans to apply for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Cole’s mom, Racheal, is also a big fan of the sport. They watch games together every Sunday. Like many parents, Racheal was a little apprehensive when she heard Cole wanted to play football. She describes how she dealt with that by saying, “I just say a little prayer before every game.  I see how much he loves this sport.  Watching him on that field, it’s magical.  He amazes me every time I watch him play.  Every time that boy makes a touchdown, I know his dad is right there with him smiling from ear to ear”.

When sharing her thoughts on The BackStoppers, Racheal said, “We lost so much when Steve was taken from us. Cole was 18 months old and Madison was three and a half years old. The BackStoppers have been our guardian angels. They have never left our side. I give them credit for Cole being able to play this sport he loves. He is able to attend camps and have all the necessary equipment he needs all thanks to The BackStoppers. I don’t know what the kids and I would have done without our angels. They are our extended family”.

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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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Family and Friends Honor Officer Snyder

This fall, Dr. Adam Snyder organized a golf tournament honoring the memory of his younger brother, fallen hero Officer Blake Snyder.  Dedicated friends Pat and Kim Lawrence, Wesley Strowmatt, and Toby Henesey made up the organizing committee, and the event was a fantastic success.  Held on September 22, 2017 at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey, IL, the tournament raised over $40,000!

“This was truly Adam’s labor of love supported by long-time friends,” said Dick Snyder, father of Officer Snyder.

BackStoppers Executive Director Chief Ron Battelle and Board member Chief Jim Silvernail joined the committee and members of the Snyder family for the check presentation and expressed gratitude for this wonderful support.

We are very grateful for everyone who gave their time to make this event possible, and everyone who attended and enjoyed the tournament.  Thank you for helping to make our mission possible!

Watch for next year’s tournament by following our Events Calendar.

Pictured left to right: Colton, Beckett, Korby, Sara Snyder, Chief Jim Silvernail, Pat Lawrence, Chief Ron Battelle, Dr. Adam Synder, Wesley Strowmatt, Toby Henesey, Kim Lawrence, and Callie.

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Baking for BackStoppers: One Family’s Mission to Make a Difference

The Schrunk family decided to support the BackStoppers in a delicious way. Janel and her daughter, Allison, made it their mission to hold an annual bake sale in honor of Officer Blake Snyder, EOW 10/06/2016.

Janel reflects on the previous year’s events that inspired her family’s decision to honor Officer Snyder in their own special way, “After he was killed, my daughter and I repeatedly saw the story on the news and Allison looked at me and said, ‘Mom, we have to do something’.”

The idea of a bake sale seemed to come naturally for Janel and Allison. “One of the things my daughter Allison and I love to do together is bake and decorate cookies. We decided to bake treats for the police officers at the 3rd Precinct and the Affton firefighters, specifically the firehouse on Gravois where Engineer Castro works. Castro is a firefighter in Affton that our family got to know well. Every three to four months Allison and I would spend a couple full days baking and preparing treats, usually with a theme of Valentines’ Day, Easter, Summer, Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. We’ve been doing this for a few years now.”

Janel’s connection to first responders in her community runs deep. She describes one of her first experiences delivering treats to Officer Snyder’s platoon where she received a hug from Officer Wagener. “When I felt her bullet-proof vest, the realization of her dangerous job was sobering. She was willing to die for me.” Since then Janel was accompanied Officer Wagener on 10 ride-alongs.

It took a lot of hard work and preparation to make the first bake sale possible, but with some love and support, the bake sale became an event! “We spent three days straight baking, decorating and bagging up treats. Some friends donated treats, my mom came to help, and my husband, Monty, made the signs. All of us worked the sale on a cool Sunday afternoon. We made enough treats to raise about $500, but ended up raising over $1,500!”

Last year was not the end of the Schrunk family’s mission to support BackStoppers. “With the encouragement and the support of so many, we decided to make it an annual event!” This past October marked the second year of the Schrunk Family Bake Sale raising over $1,000 for BackStoppers. The love that the Schrunk family has extended to their local heroes and BackStoppers cannot be denied. “We don’t know how to get across just how thankful we are. So, we bake. And decorate. And give treats.”

We would like to thank the Schrunk family for their dedication to our mission, and for making a difference in the community. This love and support helps us assist families that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety.

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Assistance to Officer Glasby and O’Connor

 

We are providing financial assistance to Officer Gary Glasby of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department who was catastrophically injured in a vehicle accident earlier in the year, and Officer Ryan O’Connor of the Arnold MO Police Department who remains in critical condition from injuries sustained while transporting a burglary suspect on December 5th.
Our mission is to provide needed financial assistance and support to the families of first responders who have lost their lives or suffered a catastrophic injury performing their duty. Please consider making a donation today at BackStoppers.org
or by mail to
The BackStoppers
PO Box 795168
St. Louis, MO 63179-0700.
Thank you for everyone’s support!

 

 

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Assistance for Officer Ryan O’Connor

Photo courtesy of arnoldmo.org

The BackStoppers has provided $5,000 in assistance to Officer Ryan O’Connor of the Arnold Police Department.  Officer Ryan O’Connor, 44, sustained life-threatening injuries while transporting a burglary suspect to the Arnold Police Department today, December 5th, 2017.

Officer O’Connor is a three year veteran of the Arnold Police Department.  He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and previously worked for the St. Louis County Police Department and Ferguson Police Department.  He has a wife and four children.

Officer O’Connor has made a tremendous sacrifice for our safety.  We are praying for him and his family, as well as the Arnold Police Department and his extended family of police officers and first responders.

Our mission is to provide needed financial assistance and support to the families of first responders who have lost their lives or suffered a catastrophic injury performing their duty.  Thank you for your support of our cause.

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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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