Inspired by Elizabeth Snyder, Cahokia teen raises thousands for BackStoppers

CAHOKIA, IL (KTVI) – A Cahokia police sergeant's daughter and the wife of a slain St. Louis police officer have discovered a special bond.

When Officer Blake Snyder was killed in October, it really shook 13-year-old Maddie McGinnis.

Maddie, the daughter of Cahokia Sgt. Chris McGinnis, is an eighth-grader at St. James Catholic School in Millstadt. She decided to raise money for BackStoppers, the organization that provides major financial help for the families of first responders who die in the line of duty.

Maddie’s inspiration has been Snyder's wife, Elizabeth.

Wander through Millstadt you can’t miss the yard signs reading, “We Support Our Local Law Enforcement.”

You’d never guess the source or the impact.

Maddie sold the signs and donated the proceeds, approximately $2,130, to BackStoppers.

“When Officer Blake Snyder died, I was really struck by the story,” Maddie said.

Her dad, grandfather, godfather, and cousins are police officers.

“I think recently she’s realized not all police officers come home,” Sgt. McGinnis said. “I think Blake Snyder’s death is the first one where she realized dad might not come home one day or grandpa might not come home one day.”

Maddie was really struck by Elizabeth’s strength and the grace with which she carried herself.

Maddie and a couple of friends hoped to sell 100 signs. They sold 400.

The girls presented BackStoppers with the check during a school assembly at St. James, Tuesday.

Elizabeth Snyder was there, too. She heard about Maddie and wanted to meet her.

“That made my heart just swell with pride,” Snyder said.

The two saw so much of themselves in each other it was hard for them to hold back tears.

“She is my inspiration because she’s so strong. I just want to be like her. She’s amazing,” Maddie said.

Elizabeth Snyder looked at her, smiling through tears of her own.

“That gets my heart you know,” Snyder said. “That makes me very, very, happy that someone says they want to be like me. I never thought it was going to be that way, that’s all because of Blake and what he has inspired thousands to do.”

BackStoppers gave Maddie four tickets and field passes to an upcoming Cardinals game.