Proposed Victory Junction Midwest camp officially at standstill

The planned Victory Junction Midwest camp for chronically ill children in Wyandotte County (KS) is on hold. Former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, who along with his wife, Pattie, founded the original camp in North Carolina, said the economy has not rebounded sufficiently to pursue donations to build and operate a second camp, which is free of charge for children and their families.

"We decided at our last board meeting in North Carolina to suspend the operations in Kansas City," Petty said. "We have just beat our head against the wall with the economy right now. We don't see in the near future we're going to be able to raise $30, $40, $50 million, whatever it costs. Obviously, the price keeps going up on it. We're going to step back. We have not abandoned the idea by any stretch, but instead of just keep dragging it on, we're going to suspend, regroup and focus on when will be the right time and look at it again."

The project has had its fits and starts since the Pettys announced plans in 2007 to build a $35 million camp in the Kansas City area. They founded the original camp in 2004 on 72 acres in Randleman, N.C., donated by Kyle Petty's father, Hall of Famer Richard Petty, in tribute to their son, Adam, who was killed in a practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000. NASCAR drivers such as Michael Waltrip, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart made sizable donations to build facilities, and when the camp became so popular it couldn't handle the demand, the Pettys selected the Kansas City area for a second camp, especially to serve children from the Midwest and West.

After an enthusiastic response from the Kansas City-area business and civic community, the economic downturn caused donors to cut back on their original pledges. Also, the original site for the camp turned out to have environmental issues after ground was broken, forcing a search for a second site.

"It's really disappointing," said Petty, who had hoped he would get more backing from Kansas City sports interests as well as from NASCAR drivers. "We made the announcement about the time the bottom fell out of Sprint Cup racing. If you go back and look at it, that was 2007, 2008 when we were riding a peak high in this sport & the most fans, the most dollars, the most TV ratings, most everything." The Victory Junction Camp in North Carolina is also experiencing about a 25% dip in donations and has had to reduce the number of campers from 120 to 100 for the past few summers. (Kansas City Star)

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