The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Eagle Riders Take Mental Health Message to Capitol


Forrest Hershberger/Sun-Telegraph

From left, Elizabeth Meister, Janet Vath and Glenn Morrison present letters of support to Luke Bennetts. The letters were transported to the State Capitol.

Deliver the message, make sure lawmakers know there is a need. That is the message of the Eagle Riders and their ride to raise awareness for Children's Mental Health.

The Eagle Riders stopped in Sidney Thursday, May 21, on their way to the Nebraska State Capitol.

"[The Ride] started 13 years ago," said event coordinator Holly Stevens. "The mission of the ride is to carry the letters across the state to the capitol."

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

Many of the motorcyclists are members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and therefore known as Eagle Riders. The ride started in Scottsbluff on Wednesday, May 20.

During the ride, the motorcyclists re-enact the part of the Pony Express riders, picking up letters in support of children's mental health written by children, their families and other supporters. The letters are then delivered to state officials at the State Capitol.

This year's ride is unique because of the coronavirus Directed Health Measures (DHM)and the riders who chose not to participate. Stevens said the ride usually includes community events at various stops. Because of crowd limits, events were limited. However, the riders were escorted by law enforcement as they entered Sidney.

"We are still able to send letters," she said.

Stevens said the mission is even more important with social structures dismantled. She stressed the youth needing support for their mental struggles face harder difficulties because of the limited socialization imposed by the DHMs.

"We're creating the voice that there is still someone there," she said.

The riders made two stops in Sidney. Their first stop was at Family4Ward for a quick breakfast, then on to Kids Korner at the Cheyenne County Community Center.

Forrest Hershberger/Sun-Telegraph

Janet Vath of Family4Ward, Inc., serves breakfast to Eagle Riders during their first stop in Sidney on May 21.

Family4Ward, Inc., is a program dedicated to providing compassionate, quality services through evidence-based practices," according to the organization's website. Family4Ward provides a day and evening reporting center, family support, electronic monitoring, employment drug testing, juvenile tracking, tutoring and homework assistance, and anger anger management.

The Kid's Korner began offering quality childcare to Sidney and its surrounding communities in August 2003.  The center was established to provide high quality services including infant care, a toddler program, preschool curriculum, before and after school programs, and a summer program.

Following the stops in Sidney, the Eagle Riders went on to North Platte, Gothenburg, and Kearney on Thursday, Grand Island, York, Columbus and Norfolk on Friday before arriving at the Capitol Building on Saturday.


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