The Eagle Riders did not allow the COVID-19 pandemic or Thursday’s rainy weather to stop them from raising awareness for children’s mental health.
The motorcyclists were in Scottsbluff on Wednesday, then made stops in Sidney and Ogallala before heading to North Platte on Thursday. They then traveled east to planned stops in Gothenburg and Kearney as part of the 13th annual Pony Express Ride and will finish at the State Capitol in Lincoln on Saturday.
“For the past 13 years, we’ve been proud to have the Eagle Riders as a key partner in raising awareness for children’s mental health,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. “Year after year, their advocacy helps us deliver the message that there is hope and there is help for those who need it. That’s especially important given the challenges COVID-19 is presenting at this time.”
Pony Express Ride stop coordinator Holly Stevens said the morning ride was good weather wise.
“This is the first moisture we’ve encountered,” Stevens said. “We’re grateful because in past years we’ve ridden in everything from snow, sleet, hail to rain.”
Stevens said the kick-off event was at the Cirrus House in Scottsbluff on Wednesday evening and 11 riders made the trek east on Thursday morning.
“We appreciate the media being available for us this year more than ever because we are not able to have the live festivities due to the pandemic and the (directed health measures),” Stevens said. “We are relying on (the media) to help us get the word out there to see what we need to do for these kiddos in our state.”
In a press release, DHHS said the ride focuses on the message that mental health is fundamental to overall health.
“During the ride, these dedicated riders 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 state employees at the State Capitol,” the release said
Usually, the riders meet with the public at various venues across the state, but in keeping with DHMs, the stops were restricting interaction with the riders. The riders wore masks and practiced social distancing whenever they stopped along the route.