16th Anniversary Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America Reaches Half-Way Mark
The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America stopped in Amarillo, Texas on Tuesday, April 4, 2010 and reached the half-way mark in the 3,800-mile trek from Indian Wells, California to Victory Junction in Randleman, North Carolina. The ride is to raise awareness and funds for the Victory Junction and other charities supporting chronically ill children.
Led by NASCAR driver and racing analyst Kyle Petty, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America is one of the most successful and poplar charity events in the country. Now in its 16th year, the Charity Ride has donated more than $13 million to Victory Junction and other children's charities, with 6,400 participants logging more than 9.1 million cumulative motorcycle miles.
Victory Junction is a year-round camping environment for children ages six to 16 with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses and who cannot attend camp in a traditional camping setting. Founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty in honor of their late son Adam, the camp is located in Randleman, N.C., with a second location opening soon in Kansas City, Kansas. Victory Junction's mission is to provide life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment.
Participating in the 2010 Ride Across America are NASCAR Sprint Cup driver of the #17 Rousch Racing Ford, Matt Kenseth, Former Dallas Cowboy's running back and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, Eddie Gossage, President of Texas Motor Speedway and over 120 other additional participants and supporters.
"With the economy continuing to struggle, these children and their families need our support now more than ever, "said Petty. Pattie and I are excited to hit the road with our fellow riders, sponsors and fans. Riding across America provides unforgettable memories and lasting friendships for everyone involved."
"The first year we raised $35,000 and in 13 years we have raised over 13 million dollars. We never thought about doing it but when Adam was killed driving a race car we built the camp. It just keeps evolving. We are building a camp now in Kansas City which is closer to here (Middle America)."
The Ride Across America left Durango, Colorado on the morning of the May 4 and arrived in Amarillo, Texas at 7:15 p.m. that evening. It was a hard day of riding and extreme temperature changes. It was only 28? when the riders left Durango and upon arriving in Amarillo they were greeted with temperatures in the high 80's and stiff winds.
Even after a hard day of riding, Petty, Walker, Gossage and Kenseth took time to sign autographs for the several hundred fans that turned out to greet the riders. With the long distances on the road and the changing weather, the challenges to the riders can be tough.
Petty commented that upon arriving at the Victory Junction Camp on this Sunday, "You forget all the dirt parking lots, the rain and the snow, all the ice and all the heat. You know that this (the camp) is what it is all about. That is the gratifying part and that is why 99% of these people do it."
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth will accompany the tour until Thursday when he has to return to his NASCAR Sprint Cup ride in Darlington, South Carolina on Friday. On being a participant in the ride and trying to maintain his Sprint Cup schedule Kenseth stated that it was difficult but, "I enjoy the ride and seeing all these people. You make a lot of friends through the years.
"The main reason is to raise awareness and raise money for Victory Junction Gang Camp and everything that Kyle and Pattie do for the kids. I love to ride motorcycles so there are a lot of reasons to participate. There is really not a reason not to do it. Most of the time we are doing appearances or testing so this is relaxing."
On the new spoiler in NASCAR Cup this season Kenseth commented, "I think it looks a lot better. The cars really don't drive that different. There may be a little difference, but not that much. I certainly think it looks more normal. I was just getting use to looking at the wing although I thought it was pretty ugly in my opinion."
When asked if three attempts on a Green-White-Checked finish in NASCAR are too much Kenseth remarked, "Yes although more times than not this year we benefitted from them. In Martinsville we didn't but everywhere else we benefitted and made up spots. In saying that I see the need for doing that once in a while but all these races are ending in re-starts. I would like to see a couple of races that ended in a forty lap run."
What if the short tracks were allowed three attempts and the longer tracks like Talladega were only allowed one attempt? Kenseth responded that, "As much as we wreck at Talladega we could probably just show up and run three Green-White-Checked and have the same results. Honestly it is a disaster for a wreck. A lot of times you get lucky and get through it (the wreck) but more times than not, you are going to have them."
1982 Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Fame member Herschel Walker continues to be a part of the Ride Across America each year. The former NFL great stated that, "I was at a race because I love NASCAR. I met Pattie and she was telling about this motorcycle ride they did across country."
"I'm an avid motorcycle rider. I love motorcycles and I asked if I could do it. I don't think that Pattie really thought I was going to do it. I think she thought that because it was cross country she thought it was going to be too tough." Walker has a custom motorcycle built each year for the Ride Across America. This year's yellow bike sports yellow starts referring to his Dallas ties.
"Six years ago I got involved and I learned what the camp was all about. I learned a long time ago that giving back is so important. That is what God means for us to do. I had a chance to go out and see the camp and see some of the kids and talk with the parents. They talked about this is the first time (at the camp) they have seen their child smile. It made me feel good."
"I have a ten year old boy that is very healthy and to see kids that are ill and sick and parents that have been with them every day, all day long be able to leave them at a camp means a great deal to them."
"I love doing this. When I first started football I was naive and stupid as I always have said, and I didn't appreciate it that much. Then I had a little boy and I started looking at things through his eyes. Now I have a chance to ride motorcycles and see the countryside. I get to see how beautiful the United States really is."
More information about Victory Junction can be found at www.victoryjunction.org