Bikers from the Mountain Renegades Motorcycle Club revved their engines at Smokin’ Jill’s Grill on Route 7 before a five hour ride through Monongalia and Preston counties. For them, and for the family of Skylar Neese, this ride is about more than enjoying the open road on the state’s birthday.

It’s about remembering a girl who was murdered across the state boarder three years ago, and continuing to grow her legacy.

“The importance of remembering Skylar through an event like this would be, to all the kids out there that were Skylar’s age and maybe younger, know how your friends are,” said Skylar’s father Dave Neese. “We didn’t think those girls were capable of this either, but they were. So, when it comes down to it, before you get in that car, before you take a hit off that joint or before you take a drink of that beer, think.”

Dave Neese hopes that even three years after her death, Skylar’s story will protect others and teach them to make smart decisions.

“If that would have happened and we had responsible choices made that night, this would have never happened,” said Dave Neese. “But since it did happen, we’re going to try to make the best out of the worst.”

The third annual Skylar Neese Memorial Poker Run made stops in Terra Alta and Kingwood before ending at Smokin’ Jill’s. Before the ride began, the Neese family shared plans to start a new scholarship fund in Skylar’s name.  

“She could argue a case like you would not believe,” said Dave Neese. “She decided that was going to be her calling – to be a lawyer. Well, of course, she didn’t get that dream, but we’re going to try to keep that dream alive and send a student through law school and pay for their entire education.”

Dave Neese said the family needs to raise $25,000 to fund a scholarship at WVU. Anyone can contribute. 

“The scholarship fund is set up through Huntington Bank under the Skylar Neese Memorial Fund, and anyone can make a donation,” said Russ LeMasters, national vice president of Mountain Renegades Motorcycle Club. “You go to any Huntington Bank, and it’s set up as a donation fund.”

When bikers returned to Smokin’ Jill’s, they were greeted with live music and raffles. All proceeds from the event benefit the Skylar Neese Memorial Scholarship Fund.