Motorcyclists ride in Summit County for children’s justice
Law enforcement officers and motorcyclists took to the streets on Saturday as part of an escorted ride to support victims of child abuse in Summit and Weber counties.
More than 200 riders turned out to participate in the fourth annual Sheriff’s Ride for Justice, a trip that took riders from Riverdale to Evanston, Wyoming, with a final stop at Billy Blanco’s restaurant in the Snyderville Basin.
Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson started the event several years ago as a way to raise money for Weber County’s Children’s Justice Center. He later reached out to Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez and Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter to see if they wanted to join.
The fundraiser has evolved from roughly 75 riders in the first year to what it is today: A daylong event that covers about 200 miles, with most of the participants having no connection to law enforcement. They are mostly motorcyclists riding for a good cause.
“It just gets bigger and bigger every year,” Carpenter said. “I think everyone has one thing in common and that is they want to help these children.”
Summit and Weber counties’ children’s justice centers are part of a network of 26 centers across the state providing child-focused programs. The Summit County Children’s Justice Center works under the auspices of the county attorney’s office. It opened in 2012 and often serves victims outside of Summit County, including victims in Wyoming.
The justice centers provide safe places for children and teenagers under 18 years old to be interviewed by officials about their abuse. The majority of the victims the centers serve are between the ages of 7 and 13. More than 100 cases are expected to be heard in 2018 in Summit County. More than 500 are heard in Weber County.
“As much as the fundraiser is a huge part of it, it is also really bringing awareness to the cause,” Carpenter said. “These advocates and individuals put the time and effort in making sure these children have a voice and I think that is what the ride really does.”
The motorcyclists rolled into the parking lot at Billy Blanco’s Saturday afternoon around 4 p.m. for a pig roast, sponsored by Bill White, a live auction and opportunity drawings. The ride started around 9 a.m.
“There were a lot of riders — men, women, young and old — it was really fun to see,” said Charlyne Wozniak, board member of the Community for Children’s Justice, an organization raising money to secure a separate standalone facility for Summit County’s Children’s Justice Center.
Several businesses and private donors contributed items for the auction and drawings, helping to bring in several thousand dollars for both justice centers. The event is organized by the staff at the centers.
“It really brings out the good in people and makes you realize how many good people are out there and want to participate in these causes,” Carpenter said.
Martinez has ridden with the motorcyclists in the past, but was unable to this year. However, he did attend the event at Billy Blanco’s.
“It’s a very tiring ride, but it’s extremely fulfilling to be doing this for the children,” he said. “It’s more than just giving money. It’s about highlighting the work that we do at our children’s justice centers. It brings us this feeling of accomplishment to know that we are united for this cause.
“From what I saw, everyone felt honored to be part of such a worthy cause,” he added.
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Summit County heard from the Park City Community Foundation that the county’s $1 million grant last year likely helped hundreds of people avoid homelessness. The nonprofit’s representatives said open lines of communication were key to ensuring that grant money went where it was needed. | Courtesy of the Park City Community Foundation