Newsroom > DHHS News Release

May 14, 2018

Julie Naughton, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-1695;
Eagle Riders to Raise Awareness For Children’s Mental Health


Lincoln – Volunteer motorcyclists will travel across the state from May 16 through May 19 for the 11th annual Pony Express, an effort to raise awareness about children’s mental health. The ride will finish in a ceremony at the Nebraska State Capitol at 1:30 pm on Saturday, May 19.

The ride focuses on the message mental health is fundamental to overall health, 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 Scottsbluff on May 16. 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.

“The health, safety and well-being of Nebraska children is a priority across the agency and we appreciate the Eagle Riders’ commitment to children’s mental health,” said Dr. Courtney Phillips, chief executive officer of the Department of Health and Human Services.

On May 17, the riders will make a stop in Sidney to pick up children’s letters, then head to North Platte, Gothenburg and Kearney. May 18 will take the riders to Grand Island, York, Columbus and Norfolk. The final day, May 19, the riders will visit Boys Town’s main campus in Omaha and wrap up the tour on the steps of the Nebraska State Capitol, where the letters will be delivered to state leaders.

“Misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental illness are widespread, and we must change that conversation,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at DHHS. ”We thank the Eagle Riders for 11 years of important conversations about children’s mental health across our great state.”   Some of the letters delivered last year have been read before the children’s system of care meetings.   The letters give voice to children and reinforce the importance of mental health services.    
Wednesday, May 16th           

  • 6:30 pm, Scottsbluff: Public event at Cirrus House, 1802 17th Ave. In addition to the Eagle Riders appearance, Cirrus House will hold a carnival and block party with events for children and young adults, food and more.

Thursday, May 17th  

  • 9 am, Sidney: Sidney Community Center/Kids Korner, 627 Toledo St.
  • 1:30 pm, North Platte: Connections Homeless Shelter, 414 E. 6th St.
  • 3:05 pm, Gothenburg: Lafayette Park Pavilion, 314 27th Street. In addition to the Eagle Riders, the public event will include a live band, free food and family activities.
  • 4:45 pm, Kearney: Buffalo County Extension Building, Families Care and Region 3 Behavioral Services event, 1400 E. 34th St., featuring fun activities, nachos and desserts. 

Friday, May 18

  • 9:40 am, Grand Island: Boys Town Shelter, 3230 West Wildwood Drive
  • 12:05 pm, York: York Aerie, 605 North Lincoln Ave.
  • 1:45 pm, Columbus: Columbus Aerie, 3205 12th St.
  • 4:05 pm, Norfolk: Ta Ha Zouka Park, public event with Parent to Parent

Saturday, May 19

  • 10 am, Omaha: Boys Town Main Campus, West Dodge Road
  • 1:10 pm, Lincoln: Motorcycle parade from the Lincoln Aerie to the Nebraska State Capitol Building
  • 1:30 pm: Arrive at Nebraska State Capitol Building to deliver letters

DHHS provides many 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.