MANCHESTER, MO - Four first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty this year were honored during a Bi-State dine out event Wednesday (Oct. 23). Businesses across the St. Louis region stepped up to show support for the families left behind.
"The Bi-State area has come together like no other area," said Jerry Langsdorf, father of North County Police Cooperative Officer Michael Langsdorf. "From the bottom of our hearts, we just want to thank each of those businesses."
More than 150 businesses in Missouri and Illinois took part in the St. Louis Hero Network's "Fall Night for the Fallen." The dine-out event honored Langsdorf, Illinois State Trooper Nick Hopkins, Godfrey Fire Capt. Jake Ringering, Maryland Heights firefighter/paramedic Chris Moore.
The St. Louis Hero Network is a non-profit that promotes first responder and veteran-owned businesses. Founder Charlie Metzner, who is also a St. Louis firefighter, said the organization naturally expanded to include community outreach and fundraising.
"When we lose these first responders in the line of duty, it hits home with us, and I think that's what inspires us to be greater than we already are otherwise," said Metzner.
Bess Langsdorf, Ofc. Langsdorf's mother said she has spoken with the mother of Trooper Hopkins and with the mother of fallen St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder who died in 2016. Bess said she is finding some comfort connecting with others who understand.
"We know what each other feels like," said Bess. "You know, not many people know what we're feeling. I mean, our hearts are broken."
Kim Haag, Ofc. Langsdorf's fiance said she faced many "dark days" after his death, and she is grateful for the community support.
"These events like this that bring everyone together, the mass of people that come out to show their support for first responders, shows me and reminds me of the good," said Haag.
Each participating restaurant chose how much they would donate to the families.