The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports Editor 

Petty charity ride rolling through, excited for small town stops



PETTY IN WASHINGTON: Racing legend Richard Petty (left) with his son Kyle. Our Sports Editor caught up with Kyle regarding his upcoming visit to Washington. and black, and a group of charity riders. Richard, Kyle, Herschel Walker and around 200 others will be rolling through the Maryhill Museum on Saturday around 12:30 p.m.

What started cross country motorcycle ride back in 1995 for former NASCAR standout Kyle Petty, the son of racing legend Richard Petty, quickly turned into an annual charity ride that has raised over $17.5 million for various children's charities.

Now, on Saturday, the Petty's, former college football Heisman winners Herschel Walker and George Rogers and hundreds of other NASCAR racers, celebrity riders and sponsors will all be rolling through the Lewis and Clark Highway on their motorcycles and stopping for a meet and greet at the Maryhill Museum of Art.

After participating for over 20 years, Petty and the charity ride is still going strong. This will be just the second or third time the ride has taken Petty's group through Washington, he said, but he's excited to pass through all the smaller communities along the 2,400 mile ride in seven days.

The ride leaves Portland on Saturday and heads to Walla Walla, and finishes the trip a week later in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but not before the stop at 12:30 p.m. at the Maryhill Museum. Fans are recommended to arrive at the museum around 12:15.

He said he likes visiting smaller communities rather than big cities, and has a bunch of stops in small towns like Goldendale.

"I think that's why I'm coming to (Goldendale), it's so cool for us" Petty said. "We don't like going to Chicago and San Francisco and big cities, we like small towns man because the people are so friendly. They come out and talk, they want to talk to my parents, want to talk to Herschel Walker, George Rogers.

"They just want to hang out at a fuel stop and while we're eating lunch or whatever we're doing just hang out and talk racing, talk football or whatever it is they want to do," Petty added. "We find out and learn so much about the area and stuff but we meet nice people."

Now, the ride benefits the "Small Change. Big Impact." program that has sent nearly 8,000 children with chronic and life threatening illnesses free of charge to Petty's Victory Junction camp in Randleman, North Carolina.

"That's the motivation for everyone to ride. It's to send more kids to camp," Petty said.

The camp is an 84-acre medically safe, exhilarating camp that challenges children who have a serious medical condition to try things they never imagined possible.


RIDING WITH THE KING: NASCAR legend Richard Petty, on bike, poses with his son Kyle, in red and black, and a group of charity riders. Richard, Kyle, Herschel Walker and around 200 others will be rolling through the Maryhill Museum on Saturday around 12:30 p.m.

Spectators can make donations on Saturday and also purchase memorabilia to help with the "Small Change. Big Impact." program.

Petty remembers how the charity ride started back in 1995. He and a small group of friends rode from North Carolina down to Phoenix for a NASCAR race. By the time they got to Arizona, the group had more than quadrupled.

"By the time we got there, it went from seven to 10 to 15 to 20 of us and we talked about it and we thought 'What a cool idea. What if we just do a charity run and pick people up along the way and go all the way across the country."

And they've done it every year since, picking up more and more riders each year while riding across all 48 states in the continental United States during the 23 years of riding.

"It's still hard for me to believe that people still want to do it," Petty said with a laugh. "To be honest with you, after you do something for 20 or 30 years, it seems like somebody would go try something else."


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