Annual Pony Express Ride for children’s mental health awareness
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Volunteers from different motorcycle organizations around Nebraska travel the states historical Pony Express route every year to pick up letters from children that consist of struggles and success stories about mental health.
This all started 16 years ago when the Eagle Riders, a motorcycle group in Nebraska, wanted to advocate for children’s mental health. They wanted to put a twist on it, though, and operate like the Pony Express Mailing Service and hand pick-up and deliver letters highlighting this cause.
“These are letters and pictures that children have written or families have written that really outline or highlight the experiences they’ve had with mental health issues,” said Tony Green, the interim director for division of behavioral health at DHHS.
This four day journey started on Wednesday, and the motorcyclists traveled to 13 different areas of Nebraska. They started in Kearney and ended at the capitol to deliver these letters to Green, Lieutenant Governor Joe Kelly and DHHS Chief Operating Officer Larry Kahl.
“A lot of these letters are not just a story but almost a plea for help that says ‘hey, whatever you can do at the capital level whether it’s the governor, director of health and human services, we need help’ and that’s what these letters are about,” said Robert Bennetts, a volunteer a part of the Holy Ghost Riders motorcycle group.
Bennetts has been riding for this cause since 2017 and his wife has ben involved since 2010. For them, this day hits close to home. They have been foster parents for years, helping children with mental health issues.
“That’s one of the reasons why my wife and I are both heavily involved with children’s mental health. People need to know the whole story. They need to know that kiddo may be acting up but it’s not because they’re a bad kid, it’s because that kid’s got struggles that nobody knows about,” Bennett’s said.
Five out of about 50 motorcyclists rode for the full four days. This added up to about 1,200 miles. Later this week, the letters will be delivered to Governor Jim Pillen.