Home Escambia County The Fenner Ride, a 25 year old legacy

The Fenner Ride, a 25 year old legacy

Jack Terhaar (L) and Wes Reeder (R) of Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, The Fenner Ride Rest Stop Sponsor

This weekend will host a 25 year old tradition bike ride benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida and, more importantly, upholding a legacy of two avid Pensacola cyclists. The Fenner Ride is in memory of Fenner McConnell and Matt Wantz.


Both men were avid cyclists and former members of the West Florida Wheelmen. Dr. Fenner McConnell, a medical examiner for a four-county district in the Panhandle, was killed in 1998 by a hit-and-run driver as he rode his bicycle across the Bob Sikes Bridge, which connects Pensacola to Santa Rosa Island. Matt was tragically killed while working in a local bike shop.

We caught up with Wes Reeder of Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, event sponsor, for more on this ride that has been a tradition for 25 years. Not only has Wes participated in all 25 rides, he is also the son-in-law to Dr. Fenner McConnell and husband to Carolyn Fenner Reeder who is the daughter of the namesake of this event.

”Carolyn and her sister Flora very much appreciate that the community continues to recognize their father Fenner and his legacy as someone who was always encouraging people to get outside, get in shape and be fit,” said Wes.

”Fenner would also be very proud I believe of the legacy of his name being associated with an event that supports Big Brothers Big Sisters because that’s exactly the type of organization Fenner would be involved in. He was very much a philanthropist and Big Brothers Big Sisters would certainly be one that he would be very proud to have his name associated with,” he continued.

Cyclists can enjoy routes that start in the historic city of Milton, all the way to the woodlands of the Blackwater Forest, and back again. Riders will be able to experience Northwest Florida’s native wildlife, natural environments, and beautiful scenery. This ride includes routes for all cycling levels: 18, 42, 62, or 100 miles. All routes are the same peaceful nature experience and is part of the Beaches to Woodlands Tour that occurs in Santa Rosa County, Florida each year. Rain or shine, 200-400 participants are always showing up and showing out.

“We are so thankful for the friends, participants, volunteers, sponsors and everyone that comes out year after year. Good weather, bad weather, hot, cold, rain, wind or whatever it might be, riders and supporters are always out to enjoy the ride. It takes an entire team of people and volunteers from Big Brothers Big Sisters to make this event successful each year,” said Wes.

Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon is proud rest stop sponsor and encourage the community to participate in this incredible ride and awesome cause that is a huge fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters each year.

Wishing all the riders a fantastic ride with beautiful weather! Thank you for catching up with The Local Pulse, Wes!

Want to ride? Registration is open through October 27.

Ride info and registration:

About the Black Water Heritage Trail

The more than nine miles of paved trail offer an enjoyable trip through a quaint North Florida town and out into the countryside where wooden bridges cross several creeks and native wildflowers dot the landscape.

Designated as a National Recreation Trail and part of Florida’s State Greenways and Trails System, this paved trail is the perfect venue for biking, running, walking and skating, along with picnicking and bird-watching activities.

The trail extends eight miles north to join the U.S. Navy’s 1.5-mile Military Heritage Trail, which ends at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field.

To read more about the fascinating history surrounding the Blackwater Heritage Trail, click HERE.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters

For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids’ perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. And we have over a century of volunteers, donors, and advocates just like you to thank. When Navy Chaplain Valerie “Elery” St. John DeLong received her orders to the Northwest Florida area in 1989, she wanted to serve as a Big Sister.  However, there was no Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.  Determined to establish the nationally known, premier mentoring organization locally, she gathered a small but dynamic group in the fall of 1989.  Chaplain Tyson, Captain Robert Jordan, Judith Merritt and Martha Krehely signed the Articles of Incorporation.  The vision of these volunteers and other supporters set the tone that has attracted outstanding board members and made possible the unparalleled success of our organization.  We have been providing one to one mentoring services for children in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties since 1989.