Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
May 10, 2017

Julie Naughton, Public Information Officer, Communications and Legislative Services, (office) 402-471-1695 or (cell) 402-405-7202,; or Stan Bills, Eagle Riders, 308-760-1416

Pony Express Motorcycle Riders to Raise Awareness
For Children’s Mental Health

Lincoln— Volunteer motorcycle riders will travel across the state from May 17 through May 20 for the 10th annual Pony Express, an effort to raise awareness about children’s mental health. The ride will finish in a ceremony on the north steps of the Nebraska State Capitol at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 20.

The ride focuses on the message mental health is fundamental, a message shared by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The bikers, members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and called Eagle Riders, will kick off their ride in Gering on May 17. During the ride — which spans almost 900 miles — these dedicated motorcyclists will reenact the mail-delivery service of the storied Pony Express by picking up letters about children’s mental health written by youth, their families and other supporters, which will be delivered to lawmakers at the State Capitol.

“Nebraska is committed to bettering the lives of our children,” said Courtney Phillips, chief executive officer of the Department of Health and Human Services.  “This statewide awareness and advocacy event places a spotlight on the challenges faced by families with young people whom have behavioral health challenges, and gives them hope for the future.”

After a kickoff parade in Gering on May 17, the riders will begin traveling across the state. On May 18, they will make a stop in Sidney to pick up children’s letters, then heading to North Platte, Gothenberg and Kearney. May 19 will take the riders to Grand Island, York, Columbus and Fremont. The final day, May 20, the riders will visit Omaha and wrap up the tour on the steps of the Nebraska State Capitol, where the letters will be delivered to state leaders.

“We must treat mental health challenges with the same urgency and respect as we treat physical health challenges,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health for DHHS. “There is no health without behavioral health, and we hope this effort will raise awareness and encourage Nebraskans to have these important conversations.”

The ride’s schedule:

May 17 at 6:00 pm MST: Kickoff parade, Gering

May 18:

  • 7:30 am MST: Leave Gering for letter pickup at Northward Elementary School, 434 16th Ave. in Sidney
  • 1:30 pm CST: Arrive at North Platte’s Eagles Aerie, 620 N. Chestnut, at 1:30 CST to pick up letters.
  • 3:05 CST: Arrive at Gothenburg Pony Express Station.
  • 4:45 CST: arrive at Kearney’s Buffalo County Extension Building, 1400 E. 34th St.
  • Families CARE will hold an event at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney on May 18. The free event will go from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. As well, the Eagle Riders will be honored at the Juvenile Justice State Convention at 5:30 pm.

May 19:

  • 8:00 am CST: Leave Kearney’s Eagles Aerie, 17 W.24th St. for Grand Island.
  • 9:40 am CST: Arrive at Boys Town Shelter, 3230 West Wildwood Drive.
  • 11:50 pm CST: Arrive at York’s Epworth Village, 2119 Division Ave. 
  • 1:45 CST: Arrive in Columbus for letter pickup at Columbus Eagle’s Aerie, 3205 12th St. 
  • 4:05 pm CST: Arrive at Norfolk’s Ta Ha Zouka Park for awareness event hosted by Parent to Parent. The event will go from 4 pm to 7 pm, with food served between 5 pm and 6 pm. Registration is required; to register, call 877-379-9926.
  • 4:45 pm CST: Leave Norfolk for Fremont.

May 20:

  • 9:25 am CST: Leave Fremont for Boys Town, West Dodge Road in Omaha.
  • 10 am CST: Arrive in Omaha at Boys Town Main Campus for letter pickup. 
  • 11:55 am CST: Arrive in Lincoln at the Eagle’s Aerie, for letter pickup. 
  • 1:30 pm CST: Parade to State Capitol where riders will deliver the letters.

DHHS provides resources for families with behavioral health needs, including the Nebraska Family Helpline, a free, confidential resource for parents with questions or concerns about their child’s behavior. The Helpline phone number is 1-888-866-8660.