ST. LOUIS — The 35th annual Budweiser Guns ‘n Hoses event packed Enterprise Center on Wednesday.
It was a sold-out event featuring law enforcement and firefighters rumbling in boxing and MMA bouts all evening long.
The event is a tradition that started in 1987, the night before Thanksgiving in St. Louis.
“Some people play checkers, and some people play bags, but where we come from, we fight. And then at the end of the night, we get to give each other trouble tomorrow at Thanksgiving dinner. We're all in it for the right reasons and that's for the BackStoppers to give back,” Budweiser Guns ‘N Hoses Vice President Jesse Finney said.
The red team made up of mostly firefighters won 9-3 but the families of those supported by the Backstoppers are the real winners here.
Joe Siebert with the Arnold Police Department fought for the first time on Wednesday. He and many others have been training for most of the year if not longer as this event means so much to them because of the support for BackStoppers.
“If you got to witness it firsthand and see how the families are taken care of after the fallen or seriously injured, it's remarkable. Knowing that you can go to work, you can sacrifice your life for safety, for a stranger to know that your family, the debts, that everything's taken care of,” Siebert said.
The families of seven fallen firefighters and law enforcement officers were honored.
Jefferson College Police Chief Don Riffe is one of the fallen. He lost his life to COVID-19 in January this year.
His daughter, Kaitlin Riffe, said she's here to honor his legacy.
“As you move through life, you have tethers that keep you grounded, tethers that keep you moving forward in the right direction. He was my tether. My mom actually passed away in 2008 and he raised me and my other two siblings as a single parent since then,” Riffe said.
Riffe said her family chose to forgo financial support from the BackStoppers so that another family in need could benefit.
“We decided the single mom left with two kids or three kids and has no idea how to move forward and no idea how to pick her life back up, she's far more needing of that than we are,” Riffe said.
In the 50 - 50 raffle alone they raised more than $57,000 but we won't find out the full amount raised until February.
You can donate any time to Backstoppers by clicking here.
It goes to a great cause to support the families of fallen first responders for life.
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