Victory Junction asks camp founder Pattie Petty to take a back seat UPDATE Kyle Petty doesn’t believe the removal of his wife, Pattie, as chief executive officer of Victory Junction Gang Camp will negatively impact the camp the couple founded in memory of their son Adam.
The Kansas City Star reported Sunday that Pattie Petty had been removed from the day-to-day operations of the camp. She has accepted a position as goodwill ambassador and chairwoman emeritus of the board that oversees the camp, according to a news release issued by the camp on Monday. “It doesn’t impact anything, it really doesn’t,” Kyle Petty, a former NASCAR star, said Monday. “Basically, the board had decided to ask Pattie to take an emeritus role and just be a spokesperson. … I have no concerns with the direction of the camp at all. Period.”
The Pettys’ son Austin is chief operating officer of the camp for chronically ill children. The Pettys opened its Randleman, N.C., camp in 2004 and has been raising funds for a new camp near Kansas City.
“While public figures are involved, this situation is no different from a regulatory perspective, and personnel matters are private and confidential per the law and human resource policies,” Austin Petty said in a statement.
“Because of this, we will not have any further comment on this or any other personnel issues at this time.”
The North Carolina camp, which has hosted more than 14,000 children free of charge since it opened in 2004, was started after a major fund-raising effort by Kyle and Pattie and with the help of the NASCAR community. It was created in memory of Adam, who was killed in a NASCAR crash in 2000. Adam Petty had talked about building the camp before he was killed at age 19.
“We’re always going to be involved in the camp,” said Kyle, the son of seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty and a driver from 1979 to 2008. “The camp was founded in memory of Adam, and we have worked incredibly hard to build the camp.
“But the camp is about the kids that come, and it’s all about what’s best for the kids.”
Kyle Petty, who is vice chairman of the board, said Pattie, who was chairman and CEO, was primarily running the fund-raising efforts for the Kansas City camp. He said Austin and Victory Junction president John McKee handled the day-to-day operations of the North Carolina camp. The North Carolina and Kansas City camps have separate board of directors that meet quarterly to make decisions on how the camps operate.
“The fund-raising is a lot harder now and a lot more intense than what it has been,” Kyle said. “It’s just a tougher environment out there. While we took more of an emotional approach to raise funds, it’s time now to take more of a business approach and get a plan for where we’re going to be and what we’re going to do.
“As much as anything, it’s more of a changing of strategy.” Sporting News04/22/12 If the planned Victory Junction Midwest becomes a reality, it likely will be without the help of Pattie Petty, the driving force who created the original NASCAR-themed camp in North Carolina for children with chronic diseases.
The Victory Junction board of directors has informed Petty, wife of former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and daughter-in-law of Hall of Famer Richard Petty, that she will no longer be part of the day-to-day operations of the camp.
The board has offered her emeritus status, but she is balking at serving in a purely ceremonial role.
“They don’t want anything to do with me,” said Pattie Petty, who has been living in Kansas City part time while raising funds for the camp in Wyandotte County. “They gave me not one reason. They said they wanted to make a change. … I’m not sure what I did wrong, but the word came back to me I was making irrational decisions.
“Two board members who wanted me to leave gave me an ultimatum … never go to the camp, not talk to anybody with the camp. … It was probably the most hurtful thing that’s ever happened to me in my life.”
John McKee, president of Victory Junction and who was hired by Pattie Petty, said he has been instructed by the board not to have any comment “because there is an ongoing employment negotiation.”
McKee emphasized the board is still committed to build a camp in Kansas.
The Pettys founded the original Victory Junction in 2004 on 72 acres in Randleman, N.C., donated by Richard Petty as a tribute to their son Adam, who was killed in a practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000.
The camp serves nearly 4,000 chronically ill children ages 6 to 16 at no cost to them or their families. Demand was so great, the Pettys announced plans in 2007 to build a $35 million Victory Junction Midwest in the Kansas City area.
But the project has been bogged down by the economic downturn, which caused donors to cut back on their original pledges. Also, the original site for the camp, donated by Wyandotte County, turned out to have environmental issues after ground was broken, making it cost-prohibitive to build a hospital, which is essential to the camp.
Pattie Petty selected a second 65-acre location off Interstate 70 just east of Kansas Speedway, but the board has not signed off on it.
Additionally, Petty, 60, has been battling a series of health problems. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year and recently underwent a hysterectomy.
“I’ve got health issues, but none of them would prohibit me from doing what I’ve always done for the kids and for the camp,” Petty said. “That was probably the best thing for me, really. I don’t think they took my illness into consideration at all. I’ve had my lawyers trying to find another case in the United States where they fired the person who built the product and has my son’s name on it, and yet, they’ve managed to ask me to leave and step aside.”