BackStoppers creates circle of support for families of fallen first responders

If you are in a giving mood this holiday season, consider the FOX2/KPLR11 Spirit of St. Louis charity campaign. BackStoppers is one of three local organizations that you are invited to support.

You can help improve the quality of life for the families of fallen first responders. These men and women risk their lives for others. BackStoppers is there to help families pick up the pieces when a work-related tragedy hits.

Elizabeth Snyder's husband, Blake Snyder, was a St. Louis County police officer when he was killed on the job.

“Once you’re with BackStoppers, you’re with them forever. It helps ease the pain a little bit, but it is always going to be there,” Snyder says.

BackStoppers has been around for decades offering support when a line of duty death or catastrophic injury occurs.

“Since 1959, we’ve helped 160 families and we’re currently taking care of about 80 families with about 60 children,” said Ron Battelle, retired St. Louis County Police Chief and Executive Director of BackStoppers. “The financial obligation in 2016 alone was three million dollars.”

BackStoppers responds within 24 hours. The family is given an immediate check for $10,000. That can be used for the initial expenses related to the wake and the funeral. A few weeks later, a representative sits down with the family to assess existing financial obligations including mortgage, car loans, credit card debt, and any other debt.

It was a big help, according to Elizabeth Snyder.

“At the beginning, they took care of credit card debt. They work tirelessly to get survivors out of debt,” she said.

Battelle says the family’s health and educational needs are also considered.

“We provide health insurance. We also do educational assistance to the spouse and the children,” he said. “We say we cover the kids from day care through college.”

To continue that coverage, BackStoppers is built on community support, be it donations or membership fees. Elizabeth Snyder says she appreciates the donor pool in our area.

“We have a very generous and loving community in St. Louis, as we can see throughout the last year. We are thankful for that and we pray for that to continue,” she said.

BackStoppers is one of three local charities included in the FOX2/KPLR 11 holiday drive. A $10 donation to one or all three charities gives you a chance at winning a new vehicle from the Bommarito Automotive Group. Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis and the St. Louis Area Food Bank are the other two charities. You can be the "Spirit of St. Louis" with your support.