Local organization now supporting fallen first responders in Missouri
When an officer, firefighter or EMT dies on the job, a local organization helps support surviving family members.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When an officer, firefighter or EMT dies on the job, a local organization helps support surviving family members.
Supporting Heroes was created after the death of Louisville Metro Police Officer Peter Grignon. Since then, the organization has helped and supported the families of dozens of fallen first responders.
"When tragedies happen, we are called upon to pay our respects," said Maj. Aubrey Gregory, Commander of LMPD's 5th Division who spent several years as head of the department's honor guard.
"All across the commonwealth, I have been involved in paying our respects to the loss."
And Gregory has seen and felt the pain and grief of surviving family members, mostly when officers sacrifice their lives while serving others.
"Especially in some of those more smaller rural areas, they just don't have the logistical support or the financial support," Gregory said.
That's why Supporting Heroes was created.
"We will respond within an hour of notification," said Eric Johnson, Executive director of Supporting Heroes. "One or more representatives will be on the road to that location prepared to be there for a week or longer."
Johnson is a retired police officer, and he often attends services for fallen emergency responders in other cities and states.
"Obviously, we have our hands full in Indiana and Kentucky," he said. "But there is a big need in Missouri."
In the last 13 years, Supporting Heroes has responded to line-of-duty deaths involving first responders in Kentucky and Indiana, and now the organization is doing the same in Missouri.
"It was a huge step, but we feel very good about it," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, there has been a tremendous need since there have been several deaths since we've been in Missouri."
That includes the recent death of Missouri police officer Gary Michael, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop. Gregory did not know the officer, but the thin blue line is more than just a symbol to police officers. It is a family crest, and that's why he supports an organization like Supporting Heroes.
"To know that my paycheck deduction, the money that I give, is a part of that, I realize it goes a long way and it makes a difference," Gregory said.
Johnson said the goal is to expand into other states in the near future.
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