GEI and the Gerding family is so grateful to the St. Louis area that we are always looking for ways to give back to the community. We participate in local charities for the Lions Club, VFW, Backstoppers and the AMVETS. We also take great pride in our American heritage and have sponsored numerous Marine & Army Divisions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The successful story of the BBQ for BackStoppers begins with event organizer, Chuck Gerding of Gerding Enterprise, who wanted to make a difference after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Chuck recalls those early BBQ planning days, "When 9/11 happened I was told that I was too old to join the military, and it tore at me not being able to contribute. I own an aerospace company and we always did our own cooking at our yearly company picnics. I came up with the idea to have a BBQ trailer designed and manufactured dedicated to our first responders and military. After a couple of years of cooking for customers, employees, family, and friends, I realized it wasn't enough. So, we started looking for different organizations to help. Luckily, we found BackStoppers. We did research and found out what a truly wonderful organization it is. The first year in 2016, after planning for five weeks, we held the BBQ in Cedar Hill, Missouri."
The first BBQ raised $12,500 with the help of the army of volunteers that is the Screaming Eagle Team, also known as the Scream Team. Great BBQ is not the only element that brings in the crowds, live music, and first responder displays. A premium raffle drawing and grand fireworks display are also components that the Scream Team executes seamlessly. Unlike the first year of planning the event five weeks out, the planning now begins nearly eight months prior to the event.
Community response has proven to be more successful year after year. The 2021 event broke records by raising $69,000 for a grand total of $200,000 since 2016! These staggering totals are made possible by the eager hands and hearts of everyone involved. Chuck beamingly shares, "We are so proud of our small town community for raising these incredible numbers, they truly are amazing. It shows what the community feels for our first responders. We are also proud of our Scream Team for working tirelessly shoulder to shoulder for over 14 hours, and for believing and being as dedicated to this cause as we are."
Chuck brings it all back to the roots of his desire to help and give back to our first responders, "I watched that horrible day in 2001 and saw those heroic men and women rush into those buildings to help people that they didn't even know, and then I realized that first responders across the country do this every day. They simply say that they are doing their job. Having the BackStoppers organization helps us give a little back to our true American heroes. We, the Screaming Eagle Team, want to thank The BackStoppers for being there since 1959 for these men and women, and for letting us be a part of the mission."
Our organization's pulse resides in the helpers. The Scream Team is a great example of how large of an impact can be made to our mission. Everyone from organizers, volunteers, community leaders and attendees touch the lives of the families we serve when supporting a fundraiser for BackStoppers. Thank you, Scream Team, for your unfaltering stance and dedication to first responders and those we serve!