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Bars and restaurants host benefit for BackStoppers

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Backing the Backstoppers!

As News11 first reported, Guns-N-Hoses, a Thanksgiving eve tradition, was postponed amid the unrest in Ferguson.

But an effort to help fill the massive void swept St. Louis, Wednesday night.

The nephew of a firefighter posted a challenge on Facebook for bars and restaurant owners to step up.

The Sports Café in Bridgeton and at least 64 other bars and restaurants did just that, on the night when firefighters, police, and EMS workers had been squaring off in the boxing ring to raise money for The Backstoppers the past 27 years.

The Backstoppers is the organization which provides major financial assistance to the families of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

No doubt there was a hollow feeling in St. Louis for The Backstoppers Executive Director, former St. Louis County Police Chief, and Ron Battelle.
"Absolutely…I should be downtown at the Scottrade Center getting ready for the 28th annual Guns-N-Hoses event," Battelle said Wednesday. "It's disappointing not to be there."

But area bars and restaurants boosted his spirits, hosting fundraisers like the "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots" tournament at Marley's in Ferguson.

"We need this tonight.  This is what makes us feel good.  This is something we can do to be positive," said Marley's owner, Martin Braun.

With all the events, the wife and children of one of the fallen felt a lot less alone without the "main event" that had become such a part of their lives this time of year.

"Oh my gosh, everybody came out.  They're supporting.  And it's huge; very grateful.  I'm so grateful for everything that everybody's doing," said the widow of a police officer, who asked not to be identified.

"One thing I've seen over time is, if there's a need, if Backstoppers has a need, the community's going to step forward, without asking," Battelle said.

And so it was this Thanksgiving eve.

Guns-N-Hoses raises about a quarter of a million dollars a year.  It will be rescheduled for the early part of 2015.  An announcement on the exact date should be coming soon.

Follow Andy Banker on Twitter and Facebook:
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