Petty tour

Fans take photos with Rick Petty during the Dekorra stop of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America on May 19. 

The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, which stopped in Dekorra on May 19, announced its 23rd anniversary Ride raised $1.3 million – the most funds raised in a single year since 2008. Funds raised directly benefit Victory Junction – a camp dedicated to providing life-changing camping experiences for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Since the Ride’s inception in 1995, more than 8,085 children have attended Victory Junction at no cost to their families. And this year, the Ride will send 100 kids to summer camp at Victory Junction.

On May 13, former NASCAR driver and NBC Sports racing analyst Kyle Petty embarked on a 2,400-mile cross-country route, leading 200 bikers from Portland, Oregon, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Covering eight states in seven days, the Ride ventured to many of our country’s historic landmarks, including Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, and for the first time in the Ride’s history, Yellowstone National Park.

Ending the Ride in Harley-Davidson’s hometown of Milwaukee on May 19, riders celebrated at the Harley-Davidson Museum and were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Harley-Davidson Corporate Offices – where some became the first-ever to sign the company’s famous water tower.

“This might be my 23rd year leading the Ride, but the overwhelming support we receive from fans in local towns across America just never ceases to impress me and we’re so grateful for that,” said Petty. “We had a very special welcome in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, where an entire K-12 school came out to greet us, and unforgettable receptions in Walla Walla, Washington, and in Mitchell, South Dakota. Not to mention the support from small towns like Kooskia, Idaho, and Raymond and Darwin, Minnesota.”

This year’s Ride surpassed last year’s total funds raised by $300,000. Funds were gathered from fans along the route, as part of the Ride’s “Small Change. Big Impact.” program, as well as donations made by generous sponsors, organizations, and the riders themselves.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our loyal sponsors, and this year we were fortunate enough to visit our friends at Manheim Portland, Manheim Minneapolis, WinCraft Inc. and Harley-Davidson,” said Petty. “Not only did these companies make generous contributions to our cause, but they also made an extra special effort to provide our riders with great food, live music, activities and more.”

This year’s Ride also featured several celebrity riders, including NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven time champion Richard Petty, NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, Hershel McGriff, NASCAR legends Harry Gant and Donnie Allison, former NFL great and ESPN’s 2016 Coaches Poll greatest college football player of all time, Herschel Walker, Heisman Trophy winner (1980) and Super Bowl champion (XXII) George Rogers, NBC Sports NASCAR personality Rick Allen, and Harley-Davidson Museum president, Bill Davidson, whose great grandfather who founded the company.

“Traveling across the country with friends and family on two wheels is an amazing experience in itself, but what makes this Ride truly special is that it’s all for the kids at Victory Junction. That’s why we ride,” said Kyle’s father, Richard Petty. “Nothing is more important than giving kids a chance to just be kids.”

Since 1995, more than 8,175 riders have logged more than 11.9 million cumulative motorcycle miles and raised $18 million for Victory Junction and other children’s charities. 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.

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