By by Eve MeinhardtFebruary 6, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The loss of a fallen Soldier is felt by many, with other Families in the community reaching out to help lessen the pain of the surviving Family. One of the Families offering solace is NASCAR's Petty Family.
When Kyle and Pattie Petty lost their son, Adam, in 2000, they worked to fulfill his vision of opening a camp for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. Adam's grandparents, Richard and Lynda Petty, donated 84 acres in Randleman, N.C. to help the Family get one step closer to making Adam's dream come true.
In 2004, they opened Victory Junction, a year-round camping facility dedicated to creating happy memories for children. The camp is a part of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps founded by Paul Newman that provides children with a camp experience in a safe environment for free.
In April, the Pettys are offering the camp and it's services to surviving spouses of fallen Soldiers and their children. Opening the camp to these Families is something the Pettys say they have wanted to do to give back to the men and women of the military.
Col. David G. Fox, the Fort Bragg garrison commander; Army Community Service; the Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization and the Victory Junction staff are working together to make this "Hollywood" weekend a memorable experience.
"This is an opportunity for surviving Families to have a bonding, positive experience. It is a time for them to just forget daily pressures. Their food and lodging is going to be paid for and they will have nothing to worry about," said Barbara Trower-Simpkins, the Fort Bragg ACS director. "It is a chance for them to just have fun and rebuild their relationship as a Family."
At least 32 Gold Star Families will be selected to attend Victory Junction's "Hollywood" experience April 17 to 19. Families must be registered with Survivor Outreach Services to be eligible for participation in the camp. Families not already registered with SOS can still do so to be eligible for the trip. The registration deadline is Feb. 28.
"Registering for the SOS program is more important than just being eligible for the trip to Victory Junction," said Stephanie Glover, the SOS program manager. "Registration entitles survivors to information and referral, assistance in navigating the military system, outreach services to include support groups for survivors and their Families and special events."
Surviving Families who need to register with SOS before applying for the Victory Junction trip must contact Stephanie Glover at 396-4306 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Barbara Trower-Simpkins at 396-6458 or barbara.trowersimpkins
Surviving Families already enrolled in SOS, can visit the ACS Web site at www.fortbraggmwr.
com/acs.php and follow the link to register for Victory Junction. Applications will also be available at all nine ACS locations throughout Fort Bragg and the surrounding communities.
Surviving spouses who do not have children can be a part of the Victory Junction "Hollywood" experience by volunteering to assist with the camp. They must be registered as a Fort Bragg volunteer and can sign up by calling Cathy Mansfield, the Installation Volunteer Coordinator, at 396-8194. Volunteers must register by Feb. 13.
The camp has medical personnel on staff and is able to accommodate special and dietary needs. Space is limited and Families not selected or able to participate in this trip will have the opportunity to attend future even