INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Back Yard Burgers in Independence is a popular lunch spot for first responders. An anonymous donor wanted to make sure they're taken care of and feel appreciated.
In between fire calls, Thaddeus Marr and his crew stopped at the burger joint for a bite to eat. Little did they know, an Independence man already picked up the tab.
"He wants to be known by 'That Damned Okie' because he's from Oklahoma," Manager Jeff Pepperman said.
Pepperman received orders from an anonymous donor Wednesday, September 11, to feed every first responder that walks through the door.
"Instantly it kind of just hit me right in the heart to where, he said he had to rearrange his finances in order to do it." Pepperman said.
But Pepperman said it was the donated dollar amount that brought them both to tears.
"So he reaches in his pocket," Pepperman said, "and he hands me $911, in cash."
"It was a surprise to us," Independence Police Officer Jeffrey Buck said.
Every officer, firefighter and paramedic got a meal - and got the story - even those who went through the drive-thru.
"It blew my mind, my friend," Pepperman said to a customer. "Just know that people are out there appreciate you, brother."
"It just takes you back to this day and what this day means and remember everything that happened," Buck said.
A day, 18 years ago, when first responders ran towards the crumbling Twin Towers of the World Trade Center trying to save others - as everyone else was running for their lives.
"They risk their lives for us," Pepperman said, "and we have to understand that's the most important thing they could do."
Employees say they decorated a special wall in the Back Yard Burger entrance for firefighters after 9/11. Marr said the support means the world, especially on the day we remember the attacks.
"After 911, this many years later, that they still think about us like this," Marr said. "It really shows their support for us and how much that we mean to them and we really appreciate that."
The perfect pick-me-up before getting their next call to keep the community safe.
Back Yard Burgers in Independence offers half priced meals to police officers daily. All other first responders get half priced meals every Tuesday.