By Eve Meinhardt/ParaglideMarch 26, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Last year, NASCAR royalty Kyle and Pattie Petty welcomed Fort Bragg's surviving spouses and their children to Victory Junction, which is a camping facility in Randleman, N.C., dedicated to creating happy memories for children.
Seventeen Families took advantage of this opportunity, spending the weekend reinforcing their Family bonds through activities like fishing, arts and crafts, horseback riding and more.
In April, the Petty Family is once again extending the invitation, hoping to give more surviving Families a chance to heal together. The experience is free of charge for the Families.
The Pettys lost their son, Adam, in 2000. They, along with Adam's grandparents, Richard and Lynda Petty, worked to fulfill Adam's vision of opening a camp for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. In 2004, they opened Victory Junction, a camp that provides children with a camp experience in a safe environment for free, in Adam's honor.
Pattie said during last year's camp for military Families that she was grateful for the chance to give back to the men and women of the military. Having experienced the loss of a Family member herself, Pattie said she realizes the importance of a change of scenery.
"We bring Families here, just wanting them to be able to smile and laugh. They get to leave their sadness at the gate, just enjoy themselves and get past their circumstance," she said.
Barbara Trower-Simpkins, director, Fort Bragg Army Community Service, helped organize last year's event. She said she was pleased to discover that the Pettys were once again opening their hearts and camp to military Families.
"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 Trower-Simpkins. "It is a chance for them to just have fun and rebuild their relationship as a Family."
At least 32 Families of fallen Soldiers will be selected to attend this year's event from April 16 to 18.
Families must be registered with Survivor Outreach Services to be eligible for participation in the camp. Surviving Families who need to register with SOS before applying for the Victory Junction trip can call SOS at 910-396-0384.
Surviving Families already enrolled in SOS, can visit the ACS Web site at www.fortbraggmwr.com/acs/sos.php and follow the link to register for Victory Junction.
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 events.
For more information on Victory Junction, call Kimberly Cochran, Victory Junction camper recruiter, at (336) 495-2017 or by e-mail at email@example.com.