Motorcycle ride honors fallen officer, raises funds to help homeless youth

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Motorcycle engines revved in downtown Salt Lake City Sunday morning for a pair of worthy causes.

One goal was to raise money and awareness for the Volunteers of America’s new Teen Resource Center, and the second reason was a tribute ride for fallen UPD Officer Doug Barney.

The weather didn't cooperate, but participants didn't let rain and hail stop them.

“Erica and the Barney family appreciate more than you ever know this gracious act of kindness,” Sheriff Jim Winder said to the motorcycle riders.

The group included Unified Police Department motorcycle officers, Patriot Guard riders, and the Addictive Behaviors Motor Works group, which organized the event. This is the organization’s fifth year.

“There was chances where my own child could be there,” explained Ric Lopez, the event organizer. “I have a lot of friends that I found out now that, if it wasn't for the VOA, they wouldn't be around. They say it saved them.”

Lopez said it was his wife, Mitzi Lopez, who came up with the idea to make this year’s fundraising ride for the VOA also a tribute to Officer Barney. She was a close friend of Officer Barney, and she also works with Unified PD. She asked Lt. Lex Bell, an officer with the department, to help with the tribute.

Firefighters used a ladder to hang the American Flag, and everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance before the ride began.

Lt. Bell was a dear friend of Officer Barney and knows the new Teen Resource Center would have meant a lot to him.

“It’s something that Doug was a real fan of,” Lt. Bell said. “He really interacted with children well. Kids loved him, so this is one of those things he would have attended if he was here.”

The Teen Resource Center opens May 24. For more information about the Volunteers of America in Utah, visit their website.