15th Annual Pony Express Ride to Raise Awareness for Children’s Mental Health


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Lincoln – Volunteer motorcyclists will ride across Nebraska from May 18 through May 21 for the 15th annual Pony Express Ride, an effort to raise awareness about children’s mental health. The ride will finish at the Nebraska State Capitol at 1:30 pm on Saturday, May 21.

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

These bikers will kick off their ride in Scottsbluff on Wednesday, May 18. During the ride, these dedicated riders will reenact the mail-delivery service of the historic Pony Express by picking up letters about children’s mental health written by youth, their families and other supporters, and delivering them to the steps of the State Capitol to DHHS Chief Executive Officer Dannette R. Smith and Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen.

“For the past 15 years, these great partners have helped raise awareness for children’s mental health,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “Half of all lifetime mental illness begins at the age of 14 and three-quarters by age 24. It’s so important to start these necessary conversations early, which allows your child to get needed help as soon as possible. If you are concerned about mental, behavioral, or emotional symptoms in your child, talk to your child’s doctor or health care provider. Help is available and effective.”

The riders will begin their journey in Scottsbluff on Wednesday, May 18. On Thursday, May 19, the riders will make stops in Kimball, Sidney, Ogallala, North Platte, Gothenburg, and Kearney.

May 20 will take the riders to Grand Island, York, Columbus, Norfolk, and Fremont. On the final day, Saturday, May 21, the riders will kick off the NAMI Nebraska Walk at BoysTown Pacific Street in Omaha, before wrapping up the tour on the steps of the Nebraska State Capitol, where the letters will be delivered.

Stops to pick up letters (all times local to the city’s time zone) include:

Wednesday, May 18

  • 5:30 pm, Scottsbluff – Community gathering to raise awareness for children’s mental health at Cirrus House, 1130 M St.

Thursday, May 19

  • 8:10 am, Kimball
  • 9:00 am, Sidney – Family 4Ward, 1105 Illinois Ave.
  • 9:30 am, Sidney – Kids Korner, 627 Toledo St.
  • 11:10 am, Ogallala – Keith County CASA, 307 W. A St.
  • 1:45 pm, North Platte – Family 1st Partnership event, Cody Park, 1601 N. Jeffers St.
  • 3:20 pm, Gothenburg – Community Resource Fair at Pony Express Station, 510 15th
  • 5:10 pm, Kearney – Event with Families CARE, 4111 4th #2.

Friday, May 20:

  • 9:50 am, Grand Island – Boystown Behavioral Health Clinic, 3230 W. Wildwood Dr.
  • 11:00 am, York – Wessels Living History Farm, 5520 S. Lincoln Ave., followed by a parade from 11:45 am to 12:20 pm
  • 1:20 pm, Columbus – Youth & Families for Christ, 2809 13th St.
  • 3:35 pm, Norfolk – Public event with Parent to Parent Network, Ta Ha Zouka Park
  • 5:30 pm, Fremont – Country Inn & Suites

Saturday, May 21:

  • 9:10 am, Boystown: Kickoff for NAMI Walk, BoysTown Pacific St.
  • 1:30 pm: Arrive at Nebraska State Capitol Building, North Steps, to deliver letters. Activities for children, food, booths and more will be part of the celebration.

Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:

  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 para Español
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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