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.Read More
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”.Read More
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.