ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – Some have come to call it the unofficial beginning of the holiday season in St. Louis. It is Guns ‘n Hoses, the annual fight night at the Scottrade Center to benefit Backstoppers. The charity provides immense financial support for the families of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
On this night, for the first time, Clayton Police Officer Ryan Dunn was about to climb into the ring. He entered in front of nearly 20 thousand screaming fans to take on a Pattonville firefighter. He was definitely thinking about exactly who he’s doing this for.
“It means everything. There’s a saying we like to say, ‘it’s the greatest life insurance policy you hope you never have to use. We’re glad it’s there, but we hope the $4 million dollars this event has raised never gets used, all our brothers and sisters stay safe.”
The event, in its 26th year, is the brainchild of St. Louis businessman Jerry Clinton. Clinton died of cancer back in January, making this the first Guns ‘n Hoses without him.
“Last year of course was our 25th anniversary,” Guns ‘n Hoses Vice President Jack Mardorelli said, “and Jerry was right there in that ring right there. He will be sadly missed. He was the backbone of this organization, and we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for Jerry Clinton.”
The event is expected to surpass $4 million raised this year for Backstoppers, and everyone in the crowd is well aware. It seems like every cop and firefighter in metro St. Louis is on hand.
“All most people see is what they do tonight,” Hazelwood officer Ed Novak said, “but they train the whole year to get ready for this and it’s great to be here to support them.”
And that support means a lot to the guys and gals in the ring.
“When you get tired you’ve got family and friends who came all the way down to support you, it means the world,” Dunn said. “Gives you that extra boost to keep going and push through.”