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By Carissa Sitki
The BackStoppers of Jersey County are up and running, ready to raise money for first responders and their families
Recently, Jersey County held its initial fundraising event for The BackStoppers since joining the national organization several months ago. Local BackStoppers members and volunteers put on the first Annual Community Fish Fry at 4 Brother’s Barbecue from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 15.
The fry was held in a drive-thru/walk-up fashion and there were two lines of cars that remained long throughout a bulk of the event. Additionally, there were shirts, koozies, and raffle tickets for a chance to win a YETI Coors Cooler donated by Ryan Decker with Chick Fritz, Inc., available for purchase. The funds raised from the fry went to the BackStoppers to support their mission.
The BackStoppers, headquartered in St. Louis, is an organization that was founded in 1959 to benefit first responders and their families.
“The BackStoppers provides ongoing needed financial assistance and support to the spouses and dependent children of all police officers, firefighters and volunteer firefighters, and publicly-funded paramedics and EMTs in our coverage area who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” reads a blurb on the organization’s website. “In addition to our mission of supporting the families of fallen heroes, BackStoppers provides assistance to first responders who suffer a catastrophic injury performing their duty.”
Jersey County was first introduced to the BackStoppers work when Jerseyville Police Officer Nathan Miller was shot in the line of duty, according to Angie Laird, of the Jerseyville Police Department.
“This came about when Nathan Miller was shot, Backtoppers walked in ready to provide assistance,” said Laird. “It sparked us to want to be a part of this; they support injured officers and their families in multiple ways.”
Jersey County Mike Ringhausen who was taking orders at the fry shared his enthusiasm for Jersey County joining BackStoppers. “They do a lot of great things for first responders,” he said. “I’m proud that our county is now part of this organization.”
Ringhausen, along with Jersey County’s fire chiefs, and other department heads, are now board members for BackStoppers.
Laird serves as secretary for the Jersey BackStoppers and echoed Ringhausen’s sentiment about the County’s affiliation with the organization, “I am happy to support this organization, always.”
Laird said that it was a community effort to put on the fry, citing Michael Ward of Downtown Country Christmas donating trailers and purchasing a tent that was then customized for the BackStoppers by Julie’s Graphics.
“Everyone showed up to support us, this really is a wonderful community,” said Laird.
Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow and Jerseyville Mayor Billy Russell were both in attendance to show their support for BackStoppers.
“I’m excited that this is something we are doing as a county,” said Morrow. “We want the public to know that BackStoppers is wonderful and they are supported.”
Russell shared Morrow’s sentiments adding, “I think this will do a lot of good for the communities of this county. And add more peace of mind to first responders and their families because they are there when you need them.”
Another upcoming big fundraiser for the Jersey BackStoppers is the Mississippi Masters Golf Tournament which will be held in Lockhaven Friday, Oct. 7. The BackStoppers were selected as the charity to benefit from the tournament this year. The event has been organized by the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, including Andy Jackson, Jamie Clayton, and Loading Dock owner Peter Allen.
The Jersey BackStoppers will be holding more events in the future. For more information visit their Facebook page called BackStoppers of Jersey County IL, or go to the organization’s website at backstoppers.org.