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By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

Charity Ride Across America to make stop in Ten Sleep

 

May 6, 2017

Courtesy

WORLAND - For the third time in 23 years the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America will make its way through Wyoming. And for the first time it will make a stop in Ten Sleep. The stop is scheduled at about 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16, as part of the leg of the ride from Cody to Deadwood, South Dakota.

The charity ride came through Wyoming the first time about 10 years ago going through northern Wyoming including a stop in Lovell. Four years ago in 2013, they went down through western Wyoming.

THE RIDE

How are the routes selected? Organizer and former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty said in an interview earlier this week that it's not a real scientific method.

He said each year on the ride, the organizers and riders get a consensus of what area of the country they want to leave from. Last year the ride left from the southwest area of the country and the consensus during that ride was to leave from the Pacific Northwest in 2017. They will leave from Portland, Oregon, on May 13. They also get a consensus of where they want to end and then "connect the dots."

"We had talked to the people from Harley Davidson [one of the sponsors of the ride] and knew we wanted to make a trip in the next year or two to Milwaukee so it just worked out perfectly," Petty said. The final destination this year for the ride is Milwaukee arriving on May 19.

According to the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America website, "Since 1995, more than 7,950 riders have logged 11.6 million cumulative motorcycle miles and raised more than $17.5 million for Victory Junction and other children's charities."

According to the website, the inspiration for the ride came in 1994, "when Petty and three friends rode their motorcycles from North Carolina to a NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway. Friends joined the ride along the way, and by the time the group reached Phoenix, it had grown to 30 riders."

Petty said in his interview that after the ride the next year in 1995 he wasn't sure if they'd do another. He said they thought it would never get any better so there was no sense in doing it again. "We weren't even going to do it a second year. About two months before the race in California the following year we thought 'hey, let's do it again. So we did it again, and we did it again the next year and here we are 23 years later doing it again."

As for stops, Petty said he likes making stops in small, rural communities like Ten Sleep.

Petty said, "I'm from rural North Carolina. I grew up in a town of 1,800 people. The friendliest people on earth as far as I'm concerned."

He added, "When we travel, and I've traveled my whole life, when we ride motorcycles across country we have found that if we stop in small towns and smaller-sized towns the people are just so nice. They come out, they talk." He said they'll talk motorcycles and the riders ask about what goes on in that part of the country. "You learn so much more. I've said it a million times. We ride through some beautiful areas and Wyoming is a beautiful state, but what you remember more than the scenery is the people you meet along the way. Ten Sleep is the perfect size stop for us. Whoever wants to come out, just send them out and we'll stand around and talk racing or talk hunting or talk whatever you want to talk."

He said they drove the ride route in a car in early December and enjoyed the stop in Ten Sleep at that time.

They schedule an hour at each pit stop.

Why did a stock car racer take to the road in 1994 on his motorcycle? "I've always ridden motorcycles," Petty said, adding that he got his first dirt bike when he was in first grade and he's been riding ever since, including riding a Sportster to high school.

As for riding cross country on a motorcycle, Petty said, "You just feel the country. I know that sounds crazy but when you fly over it, you fly over it and you just see it. When you drive through it you still have a roof over your head, your windows are rolled up and you're listening to the radio or whatever. When you ride a motorcycle through an area, you get the smells of fresh cut grass, the temperature change from going from the valley up to the mountain. You feel it on your skin. It's more sensory. It's truly amazing.

"I tell people this all the time, if you don't believe God has a sense of humor just ride around this country and look at the different land formations, the different places He gave us to look at; whether it's the desert or the mountains or the badlands, it doesn't make any difference, there's some amazing country and you feel like you're part of it when you ride through it not just passing through it."

The charity ride has 100 to 120 motorcycles. Some of the cycles will have two riders. There's also support team - medical, luggage, hotel teams, adding up to 200-225 people. He said the seven-day event means motel rooms and meals and 200 to 225 "seems to be a sweet spot for most hotels." Numbers any higher than that and the riders and support teams would be separated in different hotels.

THE CHARITY, VICTORY JUNCTION

The charity ride supported many charities when it started in 1994 but in 2004, with the opening of Victory Junction camp, funds raised go to send children to the Victory Junction camp in North Carolina.

According to the Kyle Petty charity ride website, http://www.kylepettycharityride.com, "Victory Junction is a year-round camp that exists to enrich the lives of children, ages six to 16, with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The activities and environment provide life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering.

"Established in 2004, the camp was built by the Petty family in honor of Kyle's late son Adam, who died tragically on the racetrack in 2000. Adam Petty was more than a fourth-generation NASCAR driver - he was a dreamer with a passion for helping others.

"While on the fifth anniversary of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, Adam Petty visited Camp Boggy Creek, a year-round camp for seriously ill children in Florida. During his time there, Adam envisioned creating a similar camp in North Carolina."

Founders were Kyle Petty, Pattie Petty and Paul Newman. Petty said, "When we first built camp, camp was basically for North Carolina, South Carolina, Southern Virginia and Eastern Tennessee, just a region of the country.

"When Paul Newman set up the Hole in the Wall Gang group of camps and the Serious Fun camps [of which Victory Junction is one], he envisioned it as different camps in different regions.

"What happened was, because of NASCAR, because of drivers like Tony Stewart, Dale [Earnhardt] Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett, people like that, this camp became a little bit bigger than that, and we did not anticipate that," Kyle Petty said.

He said they now have welcomed children from all 50 states and six foreign countries. They have served 26,000. "It's blossomed into something that we never envisioned and we see a lot more kids than we ever envisioned," Petty said.

There are weekend camps in the spring and fall and weeklong camps in the summer.

He said camp runs nearly year-round for 20-28 weekends, something that they also never envisioned.

"It's grown far beyond any dreams or expectations or hopes and prayers into something that is a pretty special place," Petty said.

What makes Victory Junction different than other camps is it provides an opportunity for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, not necessarily terminal illness, to experience camp. He said children who spend 30-40 days in the hospital each year can't go to regular camps because they don't have a medically-safe environment.

Victory Junction provides that with healthcare providers on site and a medical air evacuation unit.

According to a charity ride press release, "Victory Junction exists to provide life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment, always free of charge. As a not-for-profit organization, the camp operates solely through the support of generous individuals, foundations, organizations and corporations to provide this experience at no charge to children and their families. Since the camp's inception, more than 24,870 children and families have received not only a circle of support but experiences thought to only be possible by healthy children. Victory Junction is a member of the SeriousFun Children's Network of Camps founded by Paul Newman, and is accredited by the rigorous guidelines of the American Camping Association."

FUNDRAISING

So how are funds raised during the charity ride? Petty said each rider pays about $8,200 with about 25 percent going toward, fuel, meals and hotel expenses on the ride and the rest going to the camp. They also have national and international sponsors. Petty said the more sponsors they have helps with expenses and that means more money to bring more children to camp.

Local people can support the camp as well. Fans are encouraged to come support the cause and greet riders at one of the seven overnight stops or daily pit stops. Spectators along the route may also purchase memorabilia or contribute to the Ride's "Small Change. Big Impact." program, which accepts donations at each stop.

Victory Junction has served as the Ride's primary beneficiary since its establishment by Petty and his family in 2004 in honor of his late son, Adam.

THE RIDERS

Petty said there is about 10 riders who have participated in the charity for all 23 years and about 30 who have ridden 15-20 times. They have new riders every year, and Petty said, for some riding across country is a bucket list item.

All the riders know that the ride is about one thing and one thing only - sending kids to camp, Petty said.

While they have celebrities who ride every year, Petty said the celebrities are not the focus.

This year's celebrity riders, include NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion Richard Petty, NASCAR legends Harry Gant, Hershel McGriff and Donnie Allison, former NFL great Herschel Walker, Heisman Trophy winner (1980) and Super Bowl champion (XXII) George Rogers, NBC Sports NASCAR personalities Rick Allen and Rutledge Wood and Harley-Davidson Museum president, Bill Davidson.

COURTESY

Richard and Kyle Petty on last year's Charity Ride Across America.

Petty said Walker rides because he wants to help children. Allison and Gant and "all those guys on the poster" just want to be part of helping Victory Junction."

Kyle's father Richard Petty said, "As we travel to new parts of our country – or ones we haven't seen in a while – the Ride brings with it a passion for sharing the great work of Victory Junction and a comradery that can't be matched. That's what makes it one of the most popular motorcycle rides in the country."

To keep up with Petty and the riders live, follow along on social media:

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/kpcharityride and www.facebook.com/kylepetty45

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/kpcharityride and www.instagram.com/kylepetty

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/kpcharityride and www.twitter.com/kylepetty

 
 

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