By Tina Cole-Mullins
Approximately 36 Harley-Davidson motorcycles roared to life Sunday, July 23 at the Back Street Bar & Family Restaurant when local riders and riders from as far as Grand Rapids, Flint and Monroe gathered to celebrate “Jenny’s 1st Ride.” All told, more than 50 supporters convened make an amazing day and build memories for Jenny Akers and her family.
Jenny’s excitement and her fondness for organizers Mike and Cheryl Norton were evident, and this reporter was fortunate to witness the events that first sparked the friendship and set the wheels in motion that led to this event. About a year ago, Jenny was celebrating her 35th birthday at the annual Hearsefest in Hell. Mike noticed Jenny having her face painted and, unaware that the day was her birthday, offered to pick up the tab. A couple days later, Mike connected with Jenny through her mother, Michelle Price, on social media.
Around the same time, Cheryl joined a Facebook group in which Christmas cards were being requested in a “Wishes For David” campaign. Cheryl shared the link with her “We Ride Michigan” page and generated over 500 get-well cards for the ill foster child. Cheryl learned that the page was Jenny’s mother’s and that David was fostered at Jenny’s home just down the road. The couple began to visit, most often on their bikes.
At Christmas the Norton’s played Santa and delivered gifts for both David and Jenny on their bikes. The two received vests donated by Shardan’s Leather with additional patches sewn by Livingston Leather Shop in Fowlerville. Mike let Jenny sit on the bike, and she asked if she could go for a ride some time. He promised to make it happen, and on July 23, 2017, Mike made good on that promise with the Jenny’s 1st Ride event.
As luck would have it, DJ and Amanda Scheller of the Back Street Bar & Family Restaurant also belong to We Ride Michigan. They told owner Jackie Scheller, and she offered the facility as the meeting point. Jackie and her staff went the extra mile to bake a cake for Jenny to share upon her return from Hell. After all where else would the ride go but to where the friendship began?
“It’s a match made in hell.” Cheryl grinned.
Jenny hopes to attend future bike nights because “I’m an official biker now.”
Michelle and Brian Price along with their family point to Jenny’s 1st Ride as yet another example of the generous souls who populate the Stockbridge Community.