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Victory Junction Camp for kids celebrates 20 years

May 14—The motorcycles rumbled up Fred Lineberry Road near Randleman on Friday, turning onto Adam's Way and rolling into the Victory Junction Camp.

It was the end point of a 10-day, 2,100-mile charity trek from Deadwood, South Dakota, to the 84 acres of paradise for children with chronic illnesses. About 250 people made the journey — including medical personnel and others.

Former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty led the bikers into the camp that opened 20 years ago. It was a weekend of anniversary observances for Petty.

"My family's anniversary is 75 years in racing," Petty said after the riders disembarked. "We've been doing the charity ride for 28 years and the camp has been open for 20 years."

A somber anniversary was marked Sunday — 24 years since Petty's son, Adam, a 20-year-old budding NASCAR driver, was killed during practice at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

But the young man's death brought a dream to life with the establishment of the Victory Junction Camp.

The children get the experience of a summer camp, but it's more than that, Petty said. They're empowered through their experiences.

"This place changes their lives," he said. "These kids, when you start talking to them you realize they're the most special people in the world."

Petty spoke of support the riders received from elementary school students who greeted them along the way.

"We'll have elementary schools, just like here in Level Cross, and (students) will come out and wave and hold up signs. It's emotional for me, and it's very emotional for them (riders). That's how we grow the motivation as we ride across the county. That's the gratifying part."

The end of the ride was capped with the ribbon-cutting for a new water park on the campus. Petty said the kids would be excited when they come to camp this summer.

"There's a lot more water, baby," he said.

The participants featured some familiar folks. Herschel Walker, the former standout running back at the University of Georgia, took part as did Sprint Car racer Ken Schrader and retired NASCAR drivers including Richard Petty and Hershel McGriff.

"My father is 86, he'll be 87 in July and Hershel McGriff, he's 96," Kyle said. "They're my inspiration right now."

He's also inspired by his wife, Morgan, and their three young boys.

"The boys are the light of my life. I spend the days with them and Morgan. Time is the most precious gift I can get."