Eight years ago, Rollin’for BackStoppers Executive Director, Lt. Cheryl E. Orange with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, saw a need in the first responder community. She had a vision of gathering minority communities, specifically African American, and spreading awareness of the BackStoppers’ mission. Lt. Orange’s vision became a reality, and Rollin’ for BackStoppers was created.
At the heart of Rollin’ for BackStoppers, is education and awareness. “Our mission is to financially support the BackStoppers and educate all communities on the need to support the families of first responders who have been killed in the line of duty”, says Lt. Orange. As for the Rollin’ for BackStoppers name, “The name of the organization was inspired by our first responders’ service to their communities. First responders serve their community on wheels giving meaning to the name, Rollin’ for BackStoppers.”
Support for Rollin’ for BackStoppers is generated by multiple fundraising events held in September. During Rollin’ for BackStoppers’ early days, the main fundraiser was the all-adult Skate Party that drew 500 participants annually. This was only the beginning. In 2012, the Roll of Remembrance, ‘A Salute to the Fallen’ motorcycle ride was formed. Additionally, the Rollin’ on the River Car and Bike Show on the St. Louis Riverfront and, new this year, the Le Tour De Ride cyclist ride for BackStoppers, have been added to the lineup of Rollin’ for BackStoppers events. All these events take place on the fourth weekend in September, bringing in participants from all over the St. Louis region. Lt. Orange owes the success of Rollin’ for BackStoppers to the events’ loyal participants. “Rollin’ for BackStoppers is a grass-roots effort. Annually, our donation to BackStoppers is generated by community contributions from the participants. Currently, the event participants are the organization’s greatest supporters.”
The passion and drive that Lt. Orange has for the first responder community has also been passed to her son, Private Kentral Williams of the St. Louis Fire Department who is the Committee Director of Rollin’ for BackStoppers. Other first responders dedicate their time by serving on the Rollin’ for BackStoppers Board, including Capt. Guy Jennings, Private Aeron Clay, Sgt. Celestine Humphrey and Roy Whitfield.
Beaming with pride, Lt. Orange shares how appreciative she is, “What continues to be my proudest moment is the community’s continuous support of Rollin’ for BackStoppers. We have been able to make a financial contribution to the BackStoppers cause for the last eight years, helping to facilitate its mission.”
Rollin’ for BackStoppers has generated $58,000 during their eight year history! BackStoppers Executive Director Chief Ron Battelle extends his appreciation, “On behalf of the families we serve, I would like to thank Lt. Cheryl Orange, and everyone involved in making Rollin’ for BackStoppers a success. We appreciate the time and hard work that goes into the fundraisers every September. The support from Rollin’ for BackStoppers goes a long way to assist our families. Thank you!”
“The BackStoppers mission is especially important to me. As a first responder, I have no concern about my family’s financial stability if I were to make the ultimate sacrifice. My son is now a first responder and is reassured that his family is covered, as well, if he were to fall in the line of duty.” – Lt. Cheryl Orange, Rollin’ for BackStoppers Executive Director
To learn more about upcoming Rollin’ for BackStoppers events, visit RollinForBackStoppers.orgRead More
A group of students from Culver-Stockton College were presented an opportunity to honor a fallen officer and support the mission of BackStoppers. Criminal Justice Lecturer and Reserve Deputy in Monticello, Missori Seth McBride designed a student led project to help students remember officers that made the ultimate sacrifice and simultaneously create awareness and support. “I wanted to create a project for the students that would be educational, and service back to the law enforcement community”, McBride recalls. The Fallen Officer Project would not be as simple as writing an essay, but an assignment that would challenge and provoke emotions.
The students began by choosing a fallen officer to represent throughout the duration of the project. With the approval of the college administration and permission from the family or department to represent the officer, the students then commenced research on their chosen hero. The first part of the project would require students to present a live streamed presentation on the officer. The second part of the project required the students to participate in the Badge of Honor Benefit Run. The Badge of Honor Benefit Run is an annual race held in Poplar Bluff, Missouri that benefits BackStoppers among other first responder related organizations. In addition, the students ran the race wearing a T-shirt with their fallen heroes’ name. Afterwards, they sent a letter along with their finisher’s medal to the surviving family or department. “What was special about this project was even with all the requirements, the students still volunteered for the project. The students who participated in the Fallen Officer Project did not receive any college credit. They all wanted to show their appreciation for the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice”.
Students chose fallen officers to represent from all over the country. One student, Eric Pingolt chose to represent and honor Officer Blake Snyder, EOW 10/6/2016, of the St. Louis County Police Department. “I chose to represent Officer Snyder for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that he was from St. Louis and that was about an hour away from where I live. I grew up taking trips to St. Louis so when the tragedy occurred, I couldn’t believe it. Another reason why I chose Officer Snyder was because he was an outstanding police officer, and a very good citizen. Officer Snyder was heavily involved in community service projects along with a strong involvement in his church. The person Officer Snyder was and the example he set is the person I strive to be once I have my own career in the criminal justice field. I think the Fallen Officer Project is important because it remembers the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. Being able to do my report on Officer Snyder was not only an honor but a privilege”.
Along with Eric, other students took away a sense of profound respect and impact Deputy McBride hopes they will carry with them for the rest of their careers. “I wanted the students to understand sacrifice on different levels. They needed to understand the ultimate sacrifice the men and women who took the oath deal with every day. Many of the students who participated in this project want to go into law enforcement. The students needed to embrace not just how brave the officers were but see how the families dealt with it as well. I wanted to show the law enforcement community, as well as the country, that students from a college in Northeast Missouri can have a positive outlook on our law enforcement officials, especially the police officers who gave their lives to protect others. I couldn’t be prouder of the students who participated in the Fallen Officer Project”. Deputy McBride also shares that because of the support from the Culver-Stockton College administration, a new course will be offered called “In the Line of Duty,” which will require the students to complete the Fallen Officer Project and include an in-depth study of fallen heroes.
The heart and mission of BackStoppers weighs heavily on Deputy McBride, and he strives to impart this on his students. “I have known about BackStoppers since I started my law enforcement career. During the Fallen Officer Project, I spoke about what BackStoppers is, and the great things they do for families of fallen first responders. It’s important for our students to understand the sacrifices these first responders made for their community. It is also important to show these students how the community comes together to support a great organization such as BackStoppers”.
We are very proud and honored to see this generation pay tribute to fallen first responders and support our mission. Thank you to Deputy Seth McBride for leading the way and spreading awareness of our mission, and thank you to the students that participated in the Fallen Officer Project.Read More
The BackStoppers serves 18 counties in Missouri and Illinois. Because the region served by BackStoppers extends beyond St. Louis, we rely on groups of supporters who volunteer their time to help raise awareness of and funds for our mission in the outlying counties of our coverage area. These groups, called Outlying County Supporter Groups, are integral to the growth of our cause. We are honored to share with you the efforts of the Monroe County supporter group.
Fifteen years ago, Monroe County was added to the BackStoppers coverage area. Deputy Larry Gardner and Deputy Sgt. Dan Hannon of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department led the way for Monroe County BackStoppers by encouraging the community to support the mission of BackStoppers. Advisory Board member and Family Friend Deputy Larry Gardner reflects on the early stages of Monroe County BackStoppers, “We had huge support from local politicians, police and fire chiefs, the Sheriff and the general public. We knew Monroe County could generate the support we needed to become BackStoppers. Monroe County is supportive of all its law enforcement and emergency services”.
The first Saturday in March holds a very special evening for Monroe County. Their annual Trivia Night, which brings in over $24,000 each year for BackStoppers, takes a large committee and months of preparation. Committee meetings beginning in January are held every other week leading up to the Trivia Night. “We have a great group of volunteers, in addition to our committee members, that donate time working our events. We have firefighters, police officers, paramedics and their spouses who religiously donate hours of their time to help. I can’t say enough about the group of people we have assembled on our committee. Every one of them brings something to the table. We could not begin to do this without each one of them”. This dedicated group executes the favored fundraiser that is not only a great time, but a chance to bring awareness to the cause.
Deputy Gardner shares one of his proudest moments of the annual Trivia Night, “It is a proud moment for us to present a large check to BackStoppers every year. It makes all the hard work worth it! I believe we might still be one of the largest fundraisers on this side of the river”. March 2019 will mark the 15th anniversary of the Trivia Night.
Monroe County continues to support and spread awareness of BackStoppers during the summer months. The Brat Stop fundraiser held in July draws in crowds with a massive, eye-catching banner and, of course, brats. Last summer Monroe County BackStoppers also participated in the Sonnebergs Big Green Eggs Festival. Because of the work of Monroe County and the support of the community, they have presented over $300,000 to BackStoppers throughout their history!
This small group with a big heart has plans to further engage the community. Recently, Monroe County has gained their own space where they are able to plan future fundraising events and generate support.
Beyond the organizing, coordinating and putting on great fundraisers, Monroe County has kept the families we assist their sole purpose. Deputy Gardner says, “BackStoppers’ mission is important because without BackStoppers a family could be totally devastated. To take away an income, not to mention the emotional stress of losing a spouse, father or a mother could lead to disaster for a family. With BackStoppers there will be no financial stress, and they will do what they can to help with the emotional stress. We feel very privileged to be a small part of this well respected organization”.
“We greatly appreciate the dedication of all those in Monroe County that help us to carry out our mission of serving families of fallen first responders. We could not do what we do without the continued loyalty and love from these friends of BackStoppers. Thank you, Monroe County!” —-Chief Ron Battelle, BackStoppers Executive Director.
Officer Robert Jordan served in the Divisions of Patrol, Operational Support and Criminal Investigation for the St. Louis Police Department. He was also a Police Recruiter and received numerous letters of commendation and appreciation from the department and the community he served. Husband to school teacher Emmagene Jordan, father of five from toddler to teenager, and photography hobbyist, Officer Jordan was not only an exceptional police officer, but a man who loved his family and community.
In February of 1981, Officer Jordan saw great potential and encouraged Sgt. (Ret.) Byron “Sarge” Watson to become a police officer. “Robert was very dedicated to law enforcement, and he was concerned about the lack of minority officers on the department. He encouraged me to put in an application.” Later that year, Sgt. (Ret.) Watson joined the academy and was hired by the St. Louis County Police Department before walking at graduation. “I will never forget how proud Robert was when I told him that I got hired. He told me that he couldn’t wait to watch me walk across the stage at my graduation ceremony.” Tragically, Officer Jordan never got to see his friend graduate.
Four months prior to the commencement, on May 16, 1981, Officer Jordan was robbed at gunpoint while shopping with one of his children. The suspect demanded Officer Jordan’s wallet, and upon opening the wallet saw Officer Jordan’s police badge. The suspect shot Officer Jordan three times in the chest, killing him. Sgt. (Ret.) Watson remembers when he heard the news of Officer Jordan’s death, “I was totally devasted. I dedicated my academy training to him, and on the days when I wanted to give up, I would think about how disappointed Robert would have been. I graduated in September, and as I walked across the stage, I could feel Robert’s presence.”
After three decades in law enforcement, Sgt. (Ret) Watson is now the chaplain for the St. Louis County Police Department. In 1997 he became a BackStoppers Family Friend volunteer, and in 2017 he became a Family Friend to Officer Jordan’s widow, Emmagene. For over 25 years, Sgt. (Ret.) Watson was Emmagene’ s escort for the Annual Prayer Breakfast held in Clayton. This past August Emmagene Jordan passed away at the age of 80. Sgt. (Ret.) Watson reflects on the years he spent with both Officer Robert Jordan and Emmagene Jordan, “I owe my career to the Jordan family. They have always been my inspiration, and I really miss them.”
Officer Jordan’s daughter, Renate Kirksey, was two years old at the time he was killed. Renate is now a second-grade teacher for Parkwood Elementary, and she shares what inspired her to teach, “My family has had many educators, including my late mother. Within education are the principles of service and family. I was ultimately inspired by my mother to enter the field of education.”
The integrity and dedication to helping others that Renate’s parents instilled in her has been applied to her teaching career. She shares how she honors her parents’ teachings, “I honor and remember my parents by continuing the beautiful values and traditions they taught and modeled for us. Service and family were among the very important foundations established by both of my parents.”
After hearing the news of Renate’s mother passing away, the Parkwood Elementary Principal, Melissa Yount-Ott offered to hold casual dress days among the faculty with proceeds benefiting BackStoppers in honor of Officer Robert Jordan and Emmagene Jordan. The fundraiser raised over $300 for BackStoppers!
The Jordan family made a difference in their community and changed lives for the better. We are honored to have served and assisted the Jordan family. We will never forget the sacrifice Officer Robert Jordan made and we will continue to remember him.
“The BackStoppers is an organization that has helped my family tremendously since the untimely and unexpected tragic loss of my father. The BackStoppers support helped ease the weight with financial assistance for my mother and her five children. Words cannot express the gratitude my family has for the effort of the BackStoppers for not only my family, but all the families served. We look forward to helping support the organization that supports so many families of our local service heroes that will never be forgotten.” – Renate Kirksey
On April 30, 1977, St. Louis County Police Officer James Reifschneider was conducting a traffic stop when he was struck by a motorist and killed, leaving behind his wife, Sue Reifschneider, and their three children. The BackStoppers immediately began assisting the Reifschneider family. Now, more than 40 years later, the family’s heritage of honor is more than apparent. Officer Reifschneider’s son, Lt. Mike Reifschneider, is a BackStoppers Family Friend volunteer and serves with the St. Louis County Police Department as his father did. Lt. Reifschneider’s daughter, Kara Reifschneider George, is a dispatcher for the department and his son, Jake Reifschneider, is a paramedic pursuing a career in firefighting.
Lt. Reifschneider recalls what brought him to the same career path as his father, “After my father’s death, I did not immediately seek to become a police officer. I did not want to put my mother and family through another traumatic event if something similar were to happen to me. I went to Ranken Technical College and, after graduation, sought a job in the construction field. Like many children of fallen officers, at first, we choose a different career path, but life’s calling directs us back to where we are supposed to be. This was the case for me 35 years ago”.
A 35-year veteran of law enforcement, Lt. Reifschneider continues his father’s legacy by remembering him every day on duty. “I pass by his photo on the wall which is displayed with photos of other St. Louis County officers that were killed in the line of duty. I remember a time when there were fewer photos hanging on the wall. I have always tried to conduct myself in a way that would not tarnish his name. I believe I have honored him by raising his grandchildren in a way that they, too, decided on their own to become part of the first responder community”.
Lt. Reifschneider reflects on growing up in a first responder family and learning more about his father since entering the field, “My father was killed in the line of duty when I was fourteen. With shift rotations and working secondary, we did not get to see him as often as kids I knew whose fathers were not police officers. The majority of what I know about my father came from stories his friends told me about him once I became a police officer. Later in my career, I was also given copies of his personnel file. I found most of the things mentioned in his rating sheets by his supervisors, whom I later met, were like the things written in mine. Throughout the years I have been told by his friends how much I am like him and remind them of how he conducted himself”.
Lt. Reifschneider notably inherited his father’s traits and work ethic, and instilled the same in his son, Paramedic Jake Reifschneider. “I have tried to pass the same traits along to my son; having integrity, doing what is right even when no one is watching, having a good work ethic, and having compassion for others while being able to stand firm through adversity”.
Paramedic Reifschneider has ambitiously taken on the family legacy by pursuing a career as a first responder. After graduating high school, Paramedic Reifschneider enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve where he served as a medic. Upon completion of his training, he returned home to pursue a paramedic/firefighting career. After completing a paramedic program at Jefferson College in 2017, he graduated from the St. Louis County Fire Academy earlier this year. His nonstop work ethic has led him to serving full time at Union Ambulance District and part time with both the New Haven and Osage Ambulance Districts. As busy as this keeps him, he is still actively working towards becoming a firefighter/paramedic in St. Louis County.
Continuing the family’s heritage of honor was not the only motivator for Paramedic Reifschneider to become a first responder. Paramedic Reifschneider shares, “I decided to become a first responder after my brother, Jonah, passed away from a rare genetic disease. I knew that I wanted to help others just like his hospice nurses helped my family”. Lt. Reifschneider speaks with pride about his son’s choice, “I could not be happier. In todays’ environment, I am glad Jake decided to be a paramedic instead of a police officer. Since he was a child, he had an interest in medicine. With his younger brother having a terminal illness, he assisted his mother and I with his brother’s care daily. He had abilities and compassion beyond his years”.
Both Lt. Reifschneider and Paramedic Reifschneider have had to press on through unimaginable tragedies, but each remains determined to honor his family. Paramedic Reifschneider says, “My grandfather and father have left big shoes for me to fill, but I try to serve others with integrity and honor. I enjoy having the privilege of serving citizens”. The Reifschneider’s lineage of public service is an inspiration, and their integrity and work ethic a benefit to our community. In this way, Officer James Reifschneider’s service that began in 1967 continues today, and we are eternally grateful for the ultimate sacrifice he made and the legacy he left behind.
“The BackStoppers is committed to our first responders. They were there on the morning of Saturday, April 30, 1977, and have been assisting my mother as needed for the last 41 years”.
– Lt. Mike Reifschneider
“I would like everyone to know that BackStoppers supports the fallen first responders’ families from day one, and they never stop supporting them. I have seen an example of their support with my grandma as BackStoppers has been with her. Knowing that BackStoppers will be there for my family should something happen to me in the line of duty makes it easier to run towards the dangers we face as first responders every day.”
–Paramedic Jake Reifschneider
The BackStoppers is now assisting the family of Auxiliary Officer Ricardo Davis of the Washington Park Police Department who died in the line of duty on October 27, 2018 as a result of injuries sustained when he fell from the Poplar Street Bridge during a foot pursuit.
Auxiliary Officer Ricardo Davis, was 44-years old. He served with the Washington Park Police Department for one year. He left behind six children. Our thoughts and prayers are with Auxiliary Officer Davis’ family, friends, and fellow officers and co-workers.
The BackStoppers assists about 80 families with 65 dependent children and has assisted over 160 families since 1959.
The BackStoppers’ assistance is immediate and ongoing. Following the death of an officer, his or her family receives a check for $10,000 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
Our 2018 Fall Member Drive is officially here! Throughout the entire month of October new benefits will be included when you join or renew your membership, along with an invitation to our Annual Membership Dinner in 2019! At an Individual membership level you will receive a brand new BackStoppers canvas tote, Family Memberships will receive a newly designed BackStoppers hat, and Community Partners will receive a BackStoppers golf towel. Joined or renewed memberships will be valid throughout the remainder of 2018 and 2019.
Supporting our mission through membership has a direct impact on the families we assist. When you give through membership you are helping families of fallen heroes by paying off all debt, providing health and dental insurance, and assisting with the costs of elementary, secondary, and college/vocational education.
“Coping with the loss of a parent at nine years old was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I felt so alone and had no idea how I was going to get through life with this pain. However, my family found hope when BackStoppers stepped in to help. They showed us light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Through BackStoppers, my mom’s financial burden was taken off of her.” -Megan Morrison, Daughter of Capt. Robert Morrison EOW 5/4/02
BackStoppers provides over $1.5 million in assistance each year. 90% of our budget is spent on the assistance we provide, and 10% is spent on administrative expenses. Help ease the suffering of families of the fallen, and become a BackStopper today.
The BackStoppers serves 18 counties in Missouri and Illinois.Because the region served by BackStoppers extends beyond St. Louis, we rely on groups of supporters who volunteer their time to help raise awareness of and funds for our mission in the outlying counties of our coverage area. These groups, called Outlying County Supporter Groups, are integral to the growth of our cause. In July, one such group called the BackStoppers of Monroe County presented over $30,000 to BackStoppers!
This generous support comes from the annual fundraising events held by Monroe Countyincluding a highly anticipated Trivia Night, Brat Stop and more. During Monroe County’s fourteen year history, they have contributed over $300,000 towards our mission! We would like to recognize and thank the committee members, volunteers and first responders that work very hard to make this incredible support and awareness happen. We will feature more on Monroe County and their efforts in the upcoming BackStoppers print newsletter mailing later this year!Read More
Students at South County Tech showed heart and dedication to the mission of BackStoppers last December. Law Enforcement students approached their instructor, Sue Gibbons, about creating an event inspired by the famous Budweiser Guns ‘N Hoses. The Law Enforcement students joined forces with the Firefighting/EMT students and organized a flag football tournament between the two classes.
Together, the students did all the heavy lifting; measuring and prepping the field and completing everything necessary for a successful event. South County Tech staff and faculty got in on the action by making a customized trophy for the winning team, collecting ticket sales and generating hype for the big game. In the end, the Firefighting/EMT students took the win with a final score of 12 to 6.
Both Law Enforcement and Firefighting/EMT students won in the spirit of giving when they raised over $300 for BackStoppers! Chief Jim Silvernail met with the students for the check presentation and expressed how challenging but rewarding it is pursuing a career in emergency services. He also explained how their hard work raising $300 for BackStoppers helps provide financial assistance for textbooks, medications and co-pays.
Thank you to the Law Enforcement and Firefighting/EMT students for your diligence and commitment to our mission, to Instructor Sue Gibbons for encouraging the students to pursue this task and to the faculty and staff of South County Tech that supported this event. We could not do what we do without this kind of dedication to the families of fallen first responders. Thank you!
*The South County Tech Flag Football check presentation was held at the beginning of March. This was one of the last check presentations that Chief Silvernail attended. We miss him greatly.Read More