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Police officers' group raises money from Armstrong motorcycle ride

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Tim Wiles, president of the Butler Chapter of the Pennsylvania Road Dawgs Motorcycle Club, presented a $1,000 check to Andrew “Drew” Volchko, secretary of the Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation, in East Franklin Wednesday. In the background (from left) are Trooper Craig Chodkowski, Butler Road Dawgs treasurer, retired Trooper Walt Harriett, Worthington officer Gerald Rodgers and Kittanning officer Greg Koprivnak.   

When the Road Dawgs rev up their engines for a planned motorcycle ride, it's more than just for the thrill of hitting the open road — it's also a gesture of kindness and compassion.

In June, about 12 to 15 members of the Pennsylvania Road Dawgs' Butler chapter joined Kittanning Hose Company 1 in Kittanning for the Waves of Thunder event.

The Dawgs, made up of active and retired police officers, raised $1,000 from their motorcycle ride.

Tattooed, dressed in jeans and sporting a leather vest, Cpl. Tim Wiles, Butler chapter president and retired vice, passed that money on to Andrew “Drew” Volchko, secretary of the Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation (WPPBF).

Outside the state police station in East Franklin Wednesday, Wiles said the club had given money directly to injured officers in the past but recently decided to pass the funds to the WPPBF because it has the ability to reach more people.

WPPBF, a nonprofit organization founded in 2011, provides assistance to injured officers and their families.

“We help guys with minor injuries — to help bridge that gap (between benefits) all the way to helping families of those who have paid the ultimate price,” Volchko said.

Volchko, a veteran Bethel Park police officer, sustained severe injuries to his shoulder, back and arm in 2000 while arresting a suspect. He knows firsthand how an incident can impact an officer and family members.

But instead of focusing on his injuries, Volchko came up with a promise, used by WPPBF: “To all of our brethren officers in need, let it be known, no officer or family shall ever walk alone.”

He said the foundation was founded in response to two separate incidents in 2011 when Cranberry police Cpl. Dan Hahn and Clairton police Officer Jim Kuzak were injured in the line of duty.

Volchko said there didn't seem to be an immediate safety net in place to help the men and their families cope.

“What you think should exist, didn't,” he said. “Rather than whine about it, we decided to do something.”

Volchko and Wiles agreed that police officers are facing increased risk.

People seem to have fewer qualms about shooting at officers, and home invasions are on the rise, Volchko said.

He recalled how the 2005 fatal shooting of Cpl. Joseph Pokorny, 45, of Pittsburgh, impacted everyone.

“Joe was that first one who hit home,” Volchko said.

Information on how to contribute or become a member of WPPBF is available at www.wppbf.org. More information on the Road Dawgs can be found at www.roaddawgs.com.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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