The extreme cold weather of late has had most everyone concerned, but none more so than Steve Young.
Young is a man on a mission — one that started almost eight months ago from in his hometown of Patrick Springs, Va. “I walk as part of my ministry and mission work,” said the soft-spoken Young who stopped at The Herald-Chronicle office recently while on the last leg of his journey home to Patrick Springs. There, he’s semi-retired from the floor covering and window business. This is not his first walk. Young estimates he’s walked about 20,000 miles in all, covering 36 states in multiple walks over the years, his last one in 2010. His mission this time took him through four states he hadn’t walked through, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas.
“I’m walking in honor of the late Adam Petty, grandson of NASCAR driver Richard Petty and son of Kyle and Patty Petty. It was Adam’s dream to start a fun camp for sick children,” Young said.
Adam had expressed his desire to start a camp for sick children just after visiting such a camp. Sadly, he died in a racecar accident in May 2000 at age 19, but his dream came true in 2004 and is alive and well in the Victory Junction, a serious fun camp — a facility geared to aid sick children through recreationally enlightening their lives — located in Randleman, N.C.
In walking across the country, Young said he hopes to draw attention to that young man and his kindhearted dream for the camp.
When he walks into a town, he lets the police know right away what he is doing and why. He said he’s never asked anyone for anything, but is often offered assistance with his mission in the form of shelter for the night or a sandwich.
He gives the credit to God, whom he says nudged him in the right direction.
“The Lord put it in my heart to do this,” he said.
The journey has been an awakening for Young, a surprising lesson about life and people.
He puts his fingers an inch apart and says, “This is how many bad people there are in the world.” He then spreads his arms wide and says, “And this is how many good people there are out there — so, so many good, compassionate people along the way everywhere.”
Young goes on to tell how one man passed him in his truck and came driving back a bit later and handed him a brown paper sack, then drove away. Inside the sack he found a sandwich, drink, chips and a $100 bill.
Young smiled and shook his head, “I was able to get out of the cold and stay in a warm place for a couple of days because of him.”
On another bitter cold day, Young said a man simply threw his jacket out the car window as he passed.
Low points of his past journeys included being caught up in a blinding blizzard in Oregon. He’d walked in it for four hours before he found a house.
When he knocked on the door to ask if he could wait out the storm in the barn, a friendly man laughed and asked if he remembered him?
He’d passed him on the road four days earlier and yelled to ask if he needed anything. Young then remembered his face and they laughed together and shared a warm fire and a nice chat.
“There have been so many, many kind gestures shown,” Young said. “What’s so interesting is that we read the news and watch TV and see the murders, burglaries — we think there’s not a lot of good in the world, but I can tell you, there’s a lot more good than bad out there.”
One of those kind folks in our area who helped him with accommodations during the weekend’s drenching rain was Betty Pinkerton. She also invited him to a church service at Trinity Episcopal where he was able to spread word of his mission.
Young regularly seeks out churches along the way to attend on Sunday and uses that time to talk about Adam Petty’s camp for sick children.
Young doesn’t accept money for the camp, but instead tells people to go to the website and read about it at VictoryJunction.org The camp is for children ages 6 to 16 years old with chronic illnesses.
“The camp is free — a place sick children can go to have fun. They put the children into groups according to their illnesses,” Young said, “and they have medical specialists brought in to make sure it’s a medically sound environment for them. It’s just a place for kids to have fun and forget about being sick.”
Visit the website for more information, to apply for camp or to donate.
Victory Junction’s operation strives to create a foundation that fosters independence, confidence and continuous growth after camp to better the quality of life for sick children.
Children from all 50 states and several foreign countries have attended the camp.
Victory Junction is a member of Paul Newman’s renowned SeriousFun Children’s Network and is accredited by the rigorous guidelines of the American Camping Association.
Young walked out of Franklin County Tuesday, headed east to home in Patrick Springs, Va., ready to spread the word for Adam and the sick children.
Surely, this dedicated servant’s motto could be, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor death of the night, can keep me from my duty.”
Young is taking notes along the way and is writing a book due out the end of the year called, I Went Out for Milk and Kept on Going: One Man’s Journey of Hope and Faith.
He encourages everyone to abide by the sign he saw outside a church very recently, “Hebrews 13:2 — Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares…”
Possibly, Young is doing just that in promoting Victory Junction camp for sick children.