Law enforcers challenge each other with philanthropic Cop Challenge

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - South Florida officers are taking on another challenge to help a local who has helped many in the community.

Officers from various South Florida departments have already taken part in the Running Man Challenge, but Thursday, officials took part in another challenge that doesn’t require any dancing. It all started with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers who started the Cop Challenge to serve and protect those in need.

“This gentleman walks around the neighborhood, walking people’s dogs, bringing in their trash bins on trash day and even getting groceries for them when they are ill,” said FWC’s Lorenzo Veloz.

Veloz is talking about his neighbor and friend Keith Barnes for whom he organized this unique effort to pay-it-forward.

With support from Home Depot employees, Behr Paint and other FWC officers, they painted Barnes’ Southwest Miami-Dade home. “My neighbors came across and said, ‘I have something for you. Would you say yes or no?'” said Barnes. “And when they said they wanted to paint my house, I did not say, no. I was all for it. I was blessed.”

Barnes, who has worked security for Glades Middle School for 28 years, has some physical challenges that have slowed him down a bit. “From playing sports and boating, my spine started pinching off at the canal, and I was almost in a wheelchair,” Barnes said.

Despite his recovery, Barnes still gets up and goes to work and comes home to help his neighbors. “He donates his time to everybody,” said neighbor Ann Baum. “He’s working two jobs and after those jobs, he’s out there helping people.”

Barnes told 7News that he just wants to help others. “I’m trying to help the neighbors the best I can, but now they are helping me out,” he said.

Some of his students, past and present, also volunteered. “I know that when I was at Glades, he was worried about me,” said one former student. “Whenever something was off, let’s say if I didn’t eat lunch, he would let my mom know. ‘Did he eat lunch today? Does he have money for lunch?'”

Now, the FWC is calling on Miami Fire Rescue to keep all of this goodwill going. “We are challenging the City of Miami Fire Department and Rescue Captain Iggy Carol,” Veloz said. “They have accepted the challenge, and they’re gonna do something this summer to help someone else, either in a home, either in a park or somewhere in their community to try get this moving.”

Veloz says he hopes to see this initiative go nationwide.

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