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Sunday marks the 11th Jennifer Short Ride, honoring Jennifer Short (center), who was shot and killed in 2002 along with her parents, Mary and Michael.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin staff writer

Sunday will mark the 11th year of the Jennifer Short Memorial Scholarship Bike/Car Ride, the 10th year for many supporters and the first year of a partnership with Trash Ministries.

Registration will begin at 11 a.m. in the Super Country 99.9 WZBB parking lot, according to Ray Reynolds, organizer of the event that is held to ensure Jennifer Short and her family will not be forgotten. The ride will begin at 1 p.m., he said.

The cost to participate is $10 per person. Refreshments will be provided.

The route will be the same as in years past. Participants will take U.S. 220 to the U.S. 58 bypass and then take U.S. 220 South into Rockingham County. It will stop at the Jennifer Renee Short Memorial Bridge, where speakers are scheduled to address participants. The ride will end at Victory Baptist Church in Henry County, Reynolds said.

Reynolds explained that Trash Ministries stepped up to help with the event that has long been associated with well known biker and community activist Ricky “Big Bird” Holcomb, who is experiencing health issues this year.

“We are happy to have Trash Ministries on board. They will be helping with refreshments, helping the riders and drivers get situated and making sure the ride is safe,” Reynolds said. “We put safety first on the ride, and that is especially important this year. We have so many women riding bikes, and we want to make sure they feel comfortable riding by themselves.”

Women riders generally are attracted to the annual ride, according to Reynolds. “We usually have a few, but this year we will have about 25 that I know of now,” he added.

Members of the Mustang Club have signed up to ride their cars in the event, and Reynolds said he is expecting a call from a Charlotte, N.C., group of riders who generally participate.

He said he also hopes “hot rods will participate — street rods, Mustangs, Corvettes, those types of cars.”

While he is hopeful there will be newcomers, Reynolds said this year celebrates a decade of support and commitment from some of the supporters.

“This will be the 10th year that Bojangles has been supplying us chicken for the ride. That’s a big deal,” he said. Wal-Mart also is donating bottled water, but more is needed, he said.

During the first year of the ride, participants met in the parking lot of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. “So this will be our 10th year of working with B99.9, and without Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper we could not do this ride,” Reynolds said.

Draper organizes law enforcement officers and coordinates speakers and participation from authorities in Henry County and Rockingham County, N.C., Reynolds said. “He’s went way beyond to help us.”

Also, Reynolds said that without the Martinsville Bulletin’s help, “our ride (participation) would probably be down 50 percent,” he said.

“This year, I’ve had so many people from other biking organizations, churches and others” wanting to get involved, Reynolds said. “Everybody wants to be part of the Short ride, and it’s not for accolades. They just want to be part of it because it’s a little girl and her family.”

Jennifer Short’s parents, Michael and Mary Short, were found shot to death in their Oak Level home in Henry County on Aug. 15, 2002. Each suffered a single gunshot wound to the head. Jennifer was missing and presumed abducted by her parents’ killers or killer. Her remains were found about six weeks later in Rockingham County. Forensic tests determined that Jennifer also suffered a single gunshot wound to the head.

No arrests have been made, and the case remains under investigation.

Reynolds began the run to keep the case in the public’s eye and to raise money for a Jennifer Short scholarship fund.

“We raised $3,200 last year, and this ride shows that the community remembers,” Reynolds said. “I want to thank the community for all their support. This shows that people haven’t forgotten, and they never will.”

Reynolds said he also will never forget.

“I lived across the highway” from the Shorts at the time, “and I will never forget the morning I saw the Rockingham County Crime Scene Unit in the Shorts’ driveway,” Reynolds said. Rockingham County authorities “had a big new truck, and with the crime scene only about 100 yards from the Franklin County line, it just seemed strange to see North Carolina (authorities) there. Maybe Rockingham County had more or newer equipment than Franklin County, I don’t know,” he added.

After Jennifer’s remains were found in Rockingham County, Reynolds said he really pondered the connection. “To this day it’s still strange to me,” Reynolds said. “It’s just ironic.”

Regrdless, “I just want a good turnout this year. This is the community’s way of letting the family know we still care about the Short family,” he said. “We didn’t just lose a little girl. We lost a whole family.”

Besides bottled water, contributions to the scholarship fund also are appreciated.

“If anyone wants to participate but can’t for whatever reason, they still can contribute to the fund that helps keep Jennifer’s memory alive,” Reynolds said.

The scholarship fund is administered by Bassett Kiwanis Foundation, which awards the grants to students at Bassett High School, which Jennifer would have attended.

Reynolds said about 20 scholarships have been awarded in the last 10 years.

For more information or to help, call Reynolds at 340-2000.

 

 
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