|VJGC founder Pattie Petty|
“Victory Junction has extremely high ethical standards and only decisions that benefit the sustainability and longevity of camp are made by our well-respected Board of Directors,” said Petty. “I can confirm my mom accepted a goodwill ambassador position as Chairwoman Emeritus from our Board, but that is all I can confirm at this point, given that this involves ongoing negotiations between an employee and employer.”
Pattie Petty has been spending much of her time in Wyandotte County, Kansas, recently, attempting to raise money for a second Victory Junction Gang Camp planned for the area. The organization’s Board of Directors informed her recently that she will not be part of camp operations going forward, offering her ceremonial “emeritus status” instead. It is a decision Petty told the Kansas City Star she does not understand.
“I was given an ultimatum... never go to the camp (or) talk to anybody with the camp,” she claimed, calling the experience “probably the most hurtful thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. They don’t want anything to do with me,” she said. “They gave me not one reason. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but the word came back to me I was making irrational decisions.”
Austin Petty did not comment specifically on the situation, saying, “Personnel matters are private and confidential per the law and human resource policies. While public figures are involved, this situation is no different from a regulatory perspective. Because of this, we will not have any further comment on this or any other personnel issues at this time.”
Kyle and Pattie Petty founded VJGC in 2004, building a sprawling facility on 72 acres in Randleman, N.C., as a tribute to their son, Adam, who died in a Sprint Cup Series practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway four years earlier. The camp hosts nearly 4,000 seriously ill children each year at no cost, relying on a steady stream of donations from NASCAR fans and major corporations. In 2007, they announced plans to build a second camp in the Kansas City area, but the project has been slowed by a sluggish economy and lagging donations.
Pattie Petty was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year, and recently began taking a modest salary from the camp in order to attain health insurance. “I’ve got health issues,” said Petty to the Star, “but none of them would prohibit me from doing what I’ve always done for the kids and for the camp. I don’t think they took my illness into consideration at all.” She said she asked VJGC for lifetime health insurance coverage as part of her severance, but was offered two years instead.
Austin Petty promised today that the organization will weather this controversy and remain focused on its fundamental mission. “Seriously ill children are the motivation of Victory Junction,” he said. “We are as committed as ever to enriching the lives of chronically ill kids at our existing facility in Randleman, NC, as well as pushing forward the successes of a second camp serving the Midwest.”