Cape Girardeau was recently added to the coverage area of BackStoppers, an organization that financially supports spouses and children of police officers, firefighters and other publicly funded emergency medical responders who die in the line of duty.
In 2001, Cape Girardeau businessman Bob Neff contacted the organization, but was told they were not expanding at that time. So he helped organize an effort to locally raise money in case such a tragedy would occur in Cape Girardeau. The group, called The Guardians, raised $180,000 over a three-year period.
Fortunately, The Guardians have not had to make any disbursements since their inception. However, funding has been available if there were need.
According to Neff, The Guardians recently voted to dissolve the organization and donate the money to BackStoppers when they learned the organization was looking to expand to Cape Girardeau.
Benefits provided by BackStoppers include $5,000 to pay immediate expenses as well as ongoing support in the form of paying the family's outstanding debts. The group can assist the family with finding health insurance if needed, and the deceased's children also receive financial support to go to college.
While some may argue that funds raised in Southeast Missouri are now going to be used elsewhere, according to Neff, it's important to remember that with Cape Girardeau's inclusion in BackStoppers coverage area, there will now be access to millions of dollars should a need arise.
Thank you to all those involved, either organizationally or financially, in The Guardians. Your support has not gone unnoticed.