ST. LOUIS — A police officer is on a mission. After being shot “on duty” on two different occasions, he’s training for the St. Louis Thanksgiving Eve tradition, Guns ‘N Hoses. It is the police, fire, and EMS boxing matches that benefit The Backstoppers. The organization provides overwhelming support to the families of first responders who die in the line of duty.
This officer, especially, knows something about fighting.
“I remember every day how thankful I am that I’m alive,” said St. Louis Police Officer, Lucas Roethlisberger, 39.
He went through another excruciating three-hour training session on Monday.
A digital clock included the piercing sound of a referee’s whistle, letting him know when his one-minute breaks were over, and it was time to run a mile, do push-ups, crunches, punch the heavy bag, or spar with his coach, St. Louis Police Sgt. Todd Ross.
The only thing more relentless than the whistle, Monday was Roethlisberger.
“Stay engaged with your feet, come on!” barked Sgt. Ross, as Roethlisberger pounded the heavy bag for an exhausting three rounds of three minutes, each.
Roethlisberger was learning to walk and talk again 13 years ago.
A suspect shot him three times during a traffic stop. One bullet hit the carotid artery in his neck, triggering a stroke. He battled back and returned to street duty about a year and a half later.
In February of this year, he was shot again on duty, in the side this time.
“He’s a little upset that he’s been shot at, obviously,” Police Chief, Robert Tracy, said at the time.
Nine months later, Roethlisberger has been medically cleared to box. His family was nearly a Backstoppers family twice. He’s fighting for the families and first responders who weren’t as fortunate.
“It is a miracle, my blessings: my children, my family, my great support, my police department that I work for and this organization, Backstoppers. I’m very, very blessed and very thankful that I’m able to do what I do right now,” Roethlisberger said. “I have several police officer friends who have been shot, hurt severely, that cannot do the same things I’m doing. I fight to the end. I never give up.”
It’s almost unthinkable but then you look back at what he’s come through. A week from Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, with his wife and three children cheering him on, St. Louis Police Officer Lucas Roethlisberger will take the ring at Enterprise Center.