SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of motorcyclists joined in a procession from Lindon to the Utah State Capitol on Sunday as part of an annual event to honor law enforcement personnel who were killed in the line of duty.
The Ride for Fallen Officers event, currently in its eighth year, raises funds to benefit surviving family members and drew more than 6,000 participants, ride coordinator Mary Lee Robinson said.
"It was the largest year ever," she said.
At the culmination of the ride, hundreds of participants and community members gathered at the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial in Salt Lake City for a ceremony honoring Utah's fallen heroes.
The memorial contains a plaque for every Utah law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, including the names of Sgt. Cory Wride of the Utah County Sheriff's Office and Sgt. Derek Johnson of the Draper Police Department, who were shot and killed in January and September, respectively.
"It was quite the sight leaving Timpanogos Highway with all the bikes everywhere," Draper Police Chief Bryan Roberts said of Sunday's event. "There’s nothing like the support that we get from the community and I don’t know of another community that does it better than the community of riders."
Roberts said it was "sobering" to address the crowd at the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial. He said law enforcement personnel are appreciative of community support for both those officers who have fallen and for those who continue working to maintain public safety.
"This is a sacred place, this is a place of reverence, it’s a place that we come to honor those that have given their all," he said.
Johnson's sister Desirae Payne said that the year since her brother died seems simultaneously like a day and an eternity. She said seeing her brother's name included in the memorial is representative of the hope that her family and other family's feel that their loved ones are not forgotten.
"Nobody can ever replace those that have been lost but this wall confirms that their physical presence may be gone but their memories will definitely live on," she said.
Nannette Wride, widow of Sgt. Wride, thanked those in attendance for their prayers, which she said are felt and heard by grieving families.
"I want to thank you all for your support and let you know that I am just so blessed and feel so blessed that we have such an enlarged family," she said. "Your support and your love hold us together."