Local nonprofit prepares flowers ahead of memorial for Burnsville first responders

Non-profit honoring fallen first responders

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(KSTP) – A local organization spent hours Tuesday crafting flowers to bring comfort to a community grieving the loss of three fallen Burnsville first responders.

By tearing off the leaves and stripping away a few petals, Backing the Blue Line is hoping each rose can help fill the emptiness of grief. 

“It’s kind of just a labor of love for me,” Tara Yunker, Backing the Blue Line volunteer, said.

But it’s a gathering no one looks forward to.

Backing the Blue Line, a Minnesota organization, orders buckets of roses when a police officer doesn’t make it back home.

“It’s just an unfortunate circumstance,” Yunker said.

The group is crafting the flowers to honor the lives of three Burnsville first responders: officers Matt Ruge and Paul Elmstrand and firefighter paramedic Adam Finseth.

They were shot and killed in the line of duty on Feb. 18.

“Lots of hugs, a few tears shed and it’s been a heartbreaking week,” Shanna McArthur, Backing the Blue Line volunteer, said.

At Wednesday’s memorial service, they will hand out 4,000 roses to show the community they’re standing with them.

With a touch of blue for the police officers and a spray of red to honor the firefighter, the group explained one rose can say more than a dozen.

“There’s nothing really you can say or do or give that’s going to make the pain go away, but it’s a small piece and reminder of their loved ones,” Yunker said.