Former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty visited Columbia International University on May 9 to help CIU raise funds for its new athletics program that begins competition this fall.
Petty, a member of NASCAR’s most famous family has spent three decades as a NASCAR driver, owner and media commentator. His father Richard Petty, known as “the King,” is recognized as the greatest champion in NASCAR history. His grandfather, Lee, was a larger-than-life figure in the early days of stock car racing.
While Kyle Petty made his mark in racing by starting in 829 races, he is also well-known for his philanthropy. With his wife Patty, he founded Victory Junction Gang Camp near Level Cross, N.C. where nearly 5,000 children with life threatening or chronic illnesses find hope, laughter, friendship and adventure every year. The Camp is in memory of Petty’s son Adam, the fourth generation of Petty drivers, who was killed at age 19 in a practice accident at New Hampshire International Speedway.
“In that one moment, your life totally changes,” Petty told over 200 people who attended a luncheon at CIU’s Moore Fitness Center. “It totally changes your perspective on life. You expect your grandparents, yourself to go before your children. It totally disrupts everything. You question the seasons, you question absolutely everything. It shakes you to the core. It’s the hardest thing that any parent can go through. God bless any parents here who have walked that road.”
Petty told the crowd that he became a follower of Jesus Christ as a youth. And now, as an adult, he sees what God was doing through the legacy of the Petty family fame.
“It seems that God put us in this place to use the notoriety my family has gained, to use this sport, as a platform to help other people,” Petty said. “Not to win trophies, not to win notoriety, not to win fame, but to change a life.”
That’s why he said he understands CIU’s desire to use athletics as a platform to impact others for Christ.
“You have another avenue to touch people’s lives," Petty said. "There are so many things that sports do that can’t be done in the classroom. But they can be done with a ball and a bat and a glove. That will have an impact on life after life after life. All someone has to do is drop a pebble in the water and the ripple effect is tremendous.”
The Kyle Petty visit attracted local media coverage. Check it out at:
For photos from the Kyle Petty luncheon visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ciuimpact/7176789802/
For more on CIU athletics visit www.ciu.edu/athletics.