How it All Began - Honoring Officer Shawn Schneider
A lot has changed from the beginning, to today, the 6th anniversary of Lake City Police Department's Officer Shawn Schneider's passing. We have welcomed a TON of new ladies to this group and I don't think everyone knows or realizes the history of where Backing the Blue Line (BtBL) started or how far we've come.
(Some photos from Officer Shawn Schneider's funeral and the blue roses that started it all.)
IT ALL STARTED WITH A HERO TAKEN TOO SOON
BtBL started with Shawn's funeral and the Schneider family will always hold a special place in our very blue hearts. I've been told that the sky that day six years ago was pure blue with the sun shining bright, but upon arrival to the cemetery late in the day, the clouds moved in and the sun sat just above the horizon. This provided a very gloomy, chilly environment for the burial - and somehow that almost seemed appropriate. It was six years ago today that Lake City Police Officer, Shawn Schneider succumbed to his injuries from a gunshot wound he received 11 days prior, while helping a 17 year old girl escape from a domestic abuse situation.
All anniversaries are difficult, but this funeral holds special meaning for a few women within BtBL.
Shawn's funeral started it all.
AND A HANDFUL OF WOMEN WHO WANTED TO HELP
I wasn't there, I was only a month into being a LEOW at all. However, our founder, Jennifer Brooke, and the rest of the BtBL ladies, including Jessica S., Rachel I., and Emily were there. It all started with a handful of women at the time. It was before a private Facebook group full of 1,900+ women, before GoFundMe, before Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and before thousands of dollars in an operating budget.
"WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING."
It was literally just a few wives whose hearts were breaking for a fellow wife who said, "We have to do something." And do something, they did indeed! The ladies got together all the money they could just by word of mouth, and the idea for blue roses was born. The Minneapolis BlueShadows group emptied out their bank account to help support this wild idea. A group of just seven ladies worked through the night to prep the roses for Shawn's funeral.
At first, they were just going to do 208.
And then it was 500.
And then it grew to the final number of 1,000.
1,000 blue roses were sprayed and tagged to hand out with love, honor and remembrance the next day.
(Every single rose prepared for a funeral is done by hand with love.) Since that day, thousands upon thousands of roses have been handed out and hundreds of bouquets have been sent to mourning police families throughout Minnesota. We've grown from a group of seven women saying, "But what can we do?" to 1,900 ladies who jump at opportunities to serve each other's families.
(Shannon P. provides instructions at the Rose Prep for Officer Mathews, who died in the line of duty in September 2017.) It's easy to forget where we came from and take advantage of the HARD WORK that has been put in by tons of women before us. So today, I want to personally thank not only the women who were there six years ago, but those that help make every delivery incredibly special: Shannon P. and Mel D. Thank you also to Whitney K. who previously led the Fallen Officer Memorial Rose Committee beautifully for several years. A special thank you also to Shannon and Mel who chair the committee now. And a big thank you to all those who step up every time to deliver these gorgeous blue roses.
(Meghann C. holds several tags representing many of the funerals where blue roses were provded.) I have never met Brittany, but I've been told many times that she is an incredible woman. Please keep her as well as their three kids, Lillijuana, Collin and Alex, in your prayers this week. Any day it could be any one of us.
And the amount of genuine love we feel for those on the receiving end of those roses, whom we've never met, is astounding. It reminds us how hard, but incredibly blessed this crazy life is that we lead and there's not 1,900 other women I'd rather do it with.
(Just some of the women who make up the Backing the Blue Line community at the 2016 SWAT retreat. Photo by Stephanie Bennett Photography.) THANK YOU to all of you who make BtBL incredibly special!
About the writer: Brooke LeClaire is the current President of Backing the Blue Line. She has been with her LEO for 21 years and they have been married for 13 of those years. She is also a mother, Law Enforcement Chaplain, therapist and leader. A self-identified cheap wine drinking, potty mouthed lover of Jesus, Brooke leads our LEOW community with heart, soul and a sprinkling of sass.