A new year always brings new adventures and sometimes an opportunity to do good for our fellow Americans. Such is the case today when I received an email from Morgan Castano who is the Director of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America with my application to participate.
As an avid motorcycle rider since I was a young Army Lieutenant back in 1985 in Italy, this has always been a dream for me — an item on my bucket list. I had been contacted middle of last year to participate in this event and set the dates aside.
Today, the final confirmation, by way of application, arrived and is already in the mail headed back to Charlotte NC. I will be riding beside two dear friends, George and Elizabeth Cable who just recently joined us for our First Allen West Foundation Veterans Ride to Ft. Pierce Florida for the annual US Navy SEAL Muster at the National UDT/SEAL Museum.
The ride is not just about folks getting together to trek across America, there is a very important reason behind this event, in its 20th year.
After Kyle Petty’s son Adam passed away in a crash during practice laps for the Busch 200 NASCAR race in 2000, Kyle decided to honor their son’s memory by building a camp for children with chronic and/or life threatening illnesses. The result was Victory Junction, a year-round camp nestled in the woods of rural North Carolina on land donated by the Petty family.
The facility runs weeklong, disease-specific camps for children between the ages of six and sixteen during the summer, and family retreats during the spring, fall, and winter. Due to their health concerns, the children who come to Victory Junction are not able to attend other summer camps or enjoy the same activities as their peers. To date, Victory Junction has blessed the lives of nearly 18,000 children and their families.
Six years prior to Adam Petty’s tragic death, Kyle Petty was inspired to start the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America when, after deciding to ride his motorcycle out to a NASCAR race at the Phoenix International Raceway, he ended up being joined by 30 other riders. He realized that such a ride presented a great opportunity to raise money for various charities, and the annual charity ride was born. Since then, 7,180 motorcyclists have participated in the ride, logging more than 10 million cumulative miles and raising almost $15 million dollars to support Victory Junction as well as other charities. 2014 marks the Kyle Petty Charity Ride’s 20th Anniversary. The ride will begin on Saturday, May 3 in Carlsbad, near San Diego, CA and end the following Saturday, May 10, back near home for me Florida, covering 2,800 miles.
I can’t think of a better cause and Americans always find a way to support those who are less fortunate. That is after all part of our DNA — benevolence. We don’t need government to tell us how to give back to each other through charitable means.
Furthermore, I can’t think of a better group — or way — to represent the true freedom, liberty, and independence of America than bikers, the men and women who mount the iron horse and ride the open road.
I know there are events like Sturgis and Bike Week in Daytona — those are truly fun. But when I think about the heart of a biker I’m reminded of events such as this and the South Florida Toy Run put on in December in Broward County and elsewhere all over America.
I humbly ask you to support this charity event and c’mon out and ride if you can.
Let’s make this year the biggest ride they’ve ever had and I would love to be out there with the “rubber side down” with all of you great Americans!
And just to clear the record, I have a 2005 Honda VTX-1800N and the awesome US Flag paint job was done by Chopper Zoo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida — trade it in? Nah, “Ghostrider” is a powerful ride. Maybe one day I’ll auction it for charity and then get another — will have to check with Liz at Chopper Zoo on that one.
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