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Photos from: Eagle Riders visit Cool Kids in Pony Express ride

Anthony Ruiz

Cool Kids summer activities were put on hold Thursday morning as the Nebraska State Fraternal Order of Eagles - Eagles Riders rode onto the North Elementary School campus to pick up handwritten letters advocating support for children's mental health to the state capitol in Lincoln. "This is our first time stopping in Sidney," Stan Bills, executive director for the Snow-Redfern Foundation as well as an Eagle Rider, said. For the past nine years, the Eagle Riders have traveled a nearly 1,000-mile, three-day journey from Gering to Lincoln on a mission to collect letters of support from families and communities across the state. This year's ride is to deliver letters to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts in the Children's Mental Health Awareness Pony Express Ride. The effort is in partnership with the Nebraska Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, a non-profit organization that assists in advocating for families who have children with mental health problems. "It's evolved through the years," Ride coordinator Bill "Stretch" Primrose said. "It's been a good ride so far." Primrose said the idea is to mirror the old Pony Express, which delivered mail across the midwest by horseback in the 1860s. Instead of horses, however, the Eagle Riders make the journey using motorcycles. "The first year was more like the Pony Express," he said. "We had individuals who rode to different towns and passed on letters." The following year, Primrose said they decided to change the ride to a group effort. "We thought, 'Why not go all the way?'" he said. "These are amazing people," Bills said. "They do this out of the concern for kids. We get some fun out of it, too, but this is all about the kids." The ride began on Thursday with the Eagle Riders starting in Gering and Scottsbluff before heading to Sidney. "All of these people are doing this out of their own pocket," Bills said. "Nobody's paying our expenses. We do this because we care about the kids." The group will add and drop riders along the way, Bills said. When they arrived in Sidney, there were 16 in total. "This is the first time that we've started with this many bikers," Primrose said. "Most will go with us all of the way," Bills said. "We'll have more than this, probably 25 to 30 bikes, when we get to Lincoln." For Bills, who grew up in Lodgepole and has family in the area, the Sidney stop is a homecoming. "I love coming here," he said. Bills is also a supporter of the Cool Kids/No Limits program in Sidney through the Snow-Redfern Foundation. "We've known each other for a long time," Coleen Langdon, program director for the Cool Kids/No Limits, said. "He brought up stopping in Sidney, and we were happy to have them here." Langdon said students in the program, along with parents, teachers and volunteers, wrote letters for the Eagle Riders to deliver. "We have about 150 all together for them," she said. The stop also provided the riders a chance to have a snack and use the restrooms before continuing their journey. After their stop in Sidney, the riders headed to North Platte, then Kearney and Grand Island. "Then we have Epworth Village in York, and then to another organization in Norfolk," Primrose said. "Then Fremont, Omaha and Lincoln." The Eagle Riders will arrive at the state capitol on Saturday, June 4, where they will deliver the letters to the governor. Bills said he didn't know how many letters they would have by the end of the ride. "One year, we had 3,000," he said. "It can go very high." For information on the Nebraska Federation of Families for Childrens Mental Health and the Pony Express Ride, visit

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