Bikers ride across state raising awareness for children's mental health

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Motorcyclists rode across Nebraska this week to carry a message straight to the governor's desk the call for more mental health services for kids.

They call themselves the Eagle Riders and they started their ride in Scottsbluff earlier in the week.

“We know that we are doing something. We are helping educate so people can make informed decisions,” Eagle Riders Stop Coordinator Holly Stevens said.

The letters they are carrying ask lawmakers to consider making mental health issues a priority when it comes to kids. Organizations like Boys Town help kids ages 10-18 who have behavioral and mental health struggles. But they aren't big enough to meet the demand.

“A lot of kids fall in the gaps of you know they might qualify for a certain level of service but they truly kind of need a higher level of service and sometimes those services are hard for kids to get,” Boys town Program Director Deb Hulinsky said.

Boys Town can take in about 12 kids at a time and they serve most of the western two thirds of the state. Hulinsky said there needs to be an inpatient hospital for some of the more severe cases. Bow most of those kids have to go all the way to Omaha.

The Eagle Riders have been making this trip for 12 years. While they still hope for change, they are passionate about showing support for the kids.

“There is no words to describe what it is to see these kids faces when we pull in and the smiles on their faces and them just being supported,” Stevens said.

They hope the law makers will help get more services available in the rural parts of the state and raise awareness of children's mental health.

Hulinsky said that mental health affects everyone in some way and that Nebraska needs a lot more services to meet the demand.