FIELDALE – So far, the number totals almost 33,000. That’s $33,000, given out over a 15-year period and divided up into 40 scholarships. It goes to show that, sometimes, a response to tragedy can turn into something positive.
Next Saturday, Aug. 12, volunteers and riders alike will gather at Victory Baptist Church in Fieldale for the annual Jennifer Short Memorial Ride. Jennifer was nine years old when her parents, Mary and Michael Short, were found shot to death in their Oak Level home on Aug. 15, 2002. Both had been shot once in the head and the telephone line leading into the south side of the house had been cut. Jennifer, however, was missing, with authorities assuming the Figsboro Elementary student had been abducted by her parents’ killer or killers. Several weeks later, officials found her body in Rockingham County, North Carolina.
So far, no arrests have been made in the case. Each year since the murder, the ride has been held for two reasons, as ride organizer Ray Reynolds explains.
“First, we just want to keep this in folks’ memory,” Reynolds said. “I’m sad because nobody’s been convicted yet. But we don’t want people to forget this little girl.”
The second reason for the ride, Reynolds said, is to help other local kids in the area. The cost to take part in Saturday’s event is $10 and there’s a reason for that. All of the proceeds go into a scholarship fund, overseen by the Kiwanis Foundation, which is divided equally among the local schools.
“We give two scholarships each to Bassett, Magna Vista and Martinsville [each year],” Reynolds said. “Typically we have about 200 to 300 riders. If it continues to grow, we can expand those scholarships to Carlisle and maybe to Franklin County.”
The sign-ups start Saturday at 11 a.m. at Victory Baptist Church, 1300 Dillons Fork Road in Fieldale. Announcements will start up about 12:30 p.m. and the riders will leave the church at 1 p.m. The trip will take them down to the Jennifer Short Memorial Bridge, which is near Madison, North Carolina. At that point, they’ll stop to have prayer, hear from local law enforcement officials and play the bagpipes, before returning to the church.
“What does it mean to be doing this for 15 years? I’m grateful for all the support,” Reynolds said. “Everyone who’s in on this is 100 percent…