Reflecting on this year with the many challenges presented, I am filled with gratitude for our first responders. It is important to remember and thank those in law enforcement, firefighting and EMS service especially during the holiday season. This season brings time with family and friends, and many first responders must sacrifice that precious time to perform their duty of keeping our community safe.

As I write this, I am struck with grief as I acknowledge the heroes we have lost in 2020. Capt. (Ret.) David Dorn, EOW 6/2/20, Lt./ Fire Marshal Ronald Wehlage, Jr., EOW 6/30/20, and Officer Tamarris Bohannon, EOW 8/30/20 all gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. These are tremendous losses to our community and those who were left behind by their loved one. We are honored to help these families, and we are committed to supporting them for years to come.

The response from our supporters especially in this season of COVID-19 has been remarkable. This September marked our 61st anniversary and the first BackStoppers Giving Day, which raised an unprecedented total of over $80,000! This support was met through many contributions to our mission including one that has left a personal impact.

The very first BackStoppers Giving Day donation match was made by BackStoppers Advisory Director, St. Louis Guns ‘N Hoses Association Tournament Director and my friend, Jack Martorelli, who passed away in August. Jack’s love and dedication for our mission and families will forever be cherished and he is deeply missed.

2020 has brought great losses with nearly a year of canceled fundraising events including the largest, the Budweiser St. Louis Metro Boxing Showdown. Our mission and assistance have remained active, but we need your support now more than ever. You will find a donation envelope enclosed in this mailing, and I want to ensure you that any contribution big or small will be put to good use.

I hold every supporter of BackStoppers in my heart. I wish for the rest of this year to bring peace, safety and hope to our supporters, families and first responders.

Chief Ron Battelle