Celebrity riders make stop in Magee

By MARLAN JONES,

Last Thursday, Love’s in Magee was visited by NASCAR great Kyle Petty and others during the annual 25th Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America.

The only stop the group made in Mississippi was at Love’s on Hwy. 49 in Magee, where a large crowd gathered at the station and braved a thunderstorm awaiting the arrival of the riders. Mark Ellington is the manager of the local Love’s.

Over 100 motorcycles cruised into Love’s to greet fans and gas up to continue their journey. Governor Phil Bryant made an appearance in Magee to greet Kyle Petty and acknowledge the good work the Pettys’ charity, Victory Junction, continues to do.

Mayor Dale Berry recognized some of the original NASCAR fans of Magee such as Jimmy Shivers and David Tedford. Berry thanked Petty for stopping in Magee, and called on Susie Thames to present Petty with the key to the city.

Petty thanked the fans, Love’s, Mayor Berry, and the City of Magee for their help in making the Kyle Petty Ride Across America a success.

Love’s is a sponsor of the Ride. Petty and the other riders plan refueling stops at various Love’s gas stations along their journey.

NASCAR legends Richard Petty, Harry Grant, Hershel McGriff, Donnie Allison, and NFL great Herschel Walker also mingled with fans.

Walker has been involved with the ride for 15 years, and said the participants are like family. He said, “Everyone I started with 15 years ago is still here. It is so amazing to me and rewarding to be able to do this and give back to the children.” Walker explained that he was fortunate that his children are healthy, but to be able to give experiences to chronically ill children through Victory Junction is a blessing.

The riders and celebrities signed autographs and fellowshipped with the people of Simpson County before continuing their journey.

Twenty-five years ago, NASCAR driver Petty combined his passion for helping others with his love of motorcycles to create the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. It has become one of the most successful and popular charity events in the country.

The annual motorcycle trek engages celebrities, ride sponsors, motorcycle enthusiasts, fans and local communities to raise funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a year-round camp that exists to enrich the lives of children, ages 6 to 16, with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The activities and environment provide life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering.

Campers can participate in arts and crafts, archery, swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, woodshop, and music and theatre, all in a special NASCAR-themed program area.

Victory Junction was established in 2004 by the Petty family in honor of Kyle’s late son Adam, who died tragically on the race track in 2000. Adam Petty was a dreamer with a passion for helping others. While on the 5th Anniversary Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, Adam 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. His dream became Victory Junction, which has touched the lives of more than 28,300 campers and their families.

Children served at Victory Junction are not able to attend normal summer camps due to their unique medical needs, such as cancer, hemophilia, spina bifida and epilepsy. And even though it costs more than $2,500 for one child to attend Victory Junction for a week, no child or family incurs this cost, thanks to the generosity of corporations, organizations and individuals.

Since its inception 25 years ago the ride has raised more than $18.5 million for Victory Junction and other charities that support chronically ill children.

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