The annual Ride For Hope benefit will return Saturday, May 14, after a brief halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a change to the name.

However, this year’s ride will be missing its founder, Jaime Jennings, who died in October from heart complications while testing positive for COVID-19.

This year’s event — renamed the Jaime Jennings Memorial Ride For Hope — will honor her memory.

Jennings, a native of Halifax County and an avid horseman, was the brainchild of the benefit ride who donated all proceeds to the Halifax County Cancer Association. She and her best friend, Robin Talley Pool, worked endless hours blazing trails, putting up signs, organizing camp sites and cleaning up after the event.

Both young women had been touched by cancer with the loss of family members. It is a cause that was near to their hearts.

 This year’s ride also will benefit the Cluster Springs Fire Department, whose members have invested their time and effort in getting the ride together.

The event began in 2011 with about a dozen riders and has grown through the years to more than 200 horses. The substantial donations have been as high as up to $16,000.

A crowd of cowboys and cowgirls in the saddle have always made this event a success.

Each year, Jennings would set her goals higher and always exceeded, many times taking money out of her own pocket to make ends meet her expenses. 

“Jaime was a breath of fresh air,” said her mother, Wanda Bowen Jennings. “She had recently returned from a trip to Arizona to watch the sunset while riding mules.”

She was a daredevil and an adventurer and lived her life to the fullest in the short time she had. 

Jennings had slowed down on the horses in the last few years and begun raising German shorthaired pointers. Her dogs — Blaney, Booty and Rusty — were her constant companions.

 She was active in field trails every weekend and hunted bobwhite quail and pheasants. She also was a member of Quail Unlimited for the preservation of the sport.

The May 14 event will be held at the historic Traynham House and Farm in Cluster Springs owned by Sam Watts. There will be campsites available at no extra cost. Recreational vehicles and tent camping will be allowed

The group will host a raffle for an AR-15 rifle and a Ruger 22LR. There will be bluegrass music by Blue Drive for entertainment and a barbecue dinner. Everyone is welcome whether riding a horse or not. On Sunday morning, there will be a cowboy church service for all who would like to attend.

The cost for the ride, dinner and dance will be $30 and free for kids and under 12. For just the dinner and dance it’s $15.