NASCAR & Auto Racing

Kyle Petty in KC to work on children's camp

NASCAR driver Kyle Petty’s vision to open a Victory Junction Gang Camp in the Kansas City area moved a step closer to reality today.

Petty, and his wife, Pattie, addressed more than 200 business and community leaders at the Kansas City Area Development Council this morning at the Westin Crown Center Hotel. They were to spend the afternoon visiting 11 potential sites for the camp, which helps children with chronic and terminal illnesses.

An announcement on a site is expected by the end of February, Pattie Petty said. The facility would cost about $50 million to build and could open as soon as 2010.

“Everything out here has been positive,” Kyle Petty said. “That is what is so amazing about coming here, and coming to the Midwest has been the positive reception.”

Today marked the Pettys’ third visit with representatives from the business, political and medical communities since announcing their interest in a camp in Kansas City last September.

“When we were here in September, it was an egg,” Kyle Petty said. “When we came back in November, there was a crack in the egg. Right now, there is a little chicken there that has just poked his beak out the egg. But it’s coming out. So we have to go forward.”

The Pettys founded the first Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., in 2004 in honor of their son, Adam, a NASCAR driver, who died in a crash in 2000 at Loudon, N.H.

Funded by donations, the Victory Junction Gang Camp serves children who have cancer, burns, heart disease, AIDS, asthma, sickle cell anemia, epilepsy, hemophilia, immune system deficiencies/HIV, spina bifida, kidney disease, liver disease, cystic fybrosis, diabetes and autism.

The camp has served about 7,000 children aged five to 17, free of charge. The camp cannot keep pace with the number of children who want to attend the facility, especially those from the Midwest and West. The camp is open for 10 weeks in the summer and 19 weekends in the spring and fall. It features fishing, water sports, horseback riding, miniature golf, crafts, bowling, and other activities on 72 acres donated by Kyle Petty’s father, legendary racer Richard “The King” Petty.

“There are camps in your area,” Kyle Petty said. “There are asthma camps, there are cancer camps, there are different camps in the area already, but what this camp brings is something different.

“It’s like having race tracks in the area. There are race tracks in the area, and then there is Kansas Speedway. There is the big track. It’s kind of the same thing.”