Riders Raise Money For Vandalized Cemetery

By: KOLN Email
By: KOLN Email

Eight bicyclists pedaled more than 100 miles to raise money for a Nebraska cemetery that was vandalized last year.

The Gatekeeper Ride was organized to buy a new fence for Farmers Valley Cemetery, established in 1876 along the banks of the Big Blue River near Henderson.

"As a kid we hung out there a bunch, it's right on the river, it's just kind of a natural attraction to hang out down there," said ride organizer Matt Bergen, who grew up in Henderson. "It's so neat and lots of history there."

Nearly 50 gravestones were pushed over last August, some damaged beyond repair. A Saronville, Nebraska teenager was convicted of vandalism and sentenced to six months in jail. Robert Kelly Jr. will also be on probation for five years and have to pay $10,000 in restitution.

"I actually visited the cemetery about a week after the damage happened and it just kind of gives you a sick feeling to see the damage that was done," said Bergan. "Not living there anymore, you just want to do something to try to help out."

The bicyclists started in Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park near Burwell Sunday morning and arrived at the cemetery Monday for the annual Memorial Day observance.

"Marion Littlefield, who was killed in an Indian raid up by Burwell, was hauled all the way down to Farmers Valley Cemetery to be buried, so we're kind of following the historic route," said rider Harry Eckerson.

Anyone interested in making a donation should call the Plainsman Museum at 402-694-6531.

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