By Katie Morrison CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Steve Young, the “Walkin’ Man,” made his way through Madison on Tuesday, January 5. Young began walking on April 20, 2015, in Patrick Springs, Virginia, with plans to walk the U.S. to raise awareness for Victory Junction Gang Camp. Victory Junction Gang Camp, a “special camp for special kids,” was created by the Petty family of NASCAR fame to honor their son Adam. Adam Petty, son of Kyle Petty and grandson of racing icon Richard Petty, was an up and coming race car driver. When he wasn’t racing Adam could be found in pediatric hospitals visiting children with medical conditions. He had also begun saving money and making plans for a children’s camp.
Before he could accomplish those dreams he lost his life in a racing accident at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at the age of only 19. Thus the Petty family, with the help of friends and the NASCAR community, fulfilled Adam’s dreams by creating Victory Junction Gang Camp. Today the camp is spread across 84 acres in Randleman, NC. It provides a medically sound environment allowing children with serious illnesses to be able to focus on enjoying their childhood and forget about being sick all while enjoying camp life. Steve Young has his own personal forms of inspiration for gaining awareness for the camp. He grew up around racing as a child always took interest in the sport. Additionally, as a child he and his sister were best friends with a girl whose mother had taken Thalidomide for morning sickness while pregnant. The girl was born with deformities as a result. When asked what brought him to walk the country to lead awareness, Young said, “I was just led out my front door. I went out for milk and just kept going.” Young also stated that he is not looking for donations for the camp, but that he only wants to raise awareness. His walking has gained a great deal of attention, including that of a national newscast. He has covered a path from Virginia to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and now Georgia.
He travels light, taking with him only items that are absolutely necessary, such as camping supplies, a cell phone, and digital camera. Young uses basic maps and marks his paths before his travels. “Making sure I have everything I need to make the trip comfortable…a tent, sleeping bag, the essentials I need as I go,” is considered to be the most important part of preparing for his journeys.
Young noted that the generosity of others is one of the greatest aids during his travels. When he arrives in a town the first thing he does is go to the police station, city hall, and the newspaper. There he informs them of his endeavors and provides them with information about Victory Junction Gang Camp. He said he has been “blessed” by the generosity of townspeople. “When I’m in towns, 98 percent of the time I set up my tent in parks, fairgrounds, behind churches, fire stations, city halls, police departments…wherever I get permission. They’re pretty good about working with me. I’ve met some great mayors and police officers. Sometimes they even offer to put me in hotel rooms,” explained Young.
He spent Monday night in Madison after traveling Highway 441 in route to Athens. Though he started walking last April, Young does not expect to finish until March of this year. Young has also written his first book, “One Man’s Journey of Hope and Faith,” about his many experiences.
For more information on Victory Junction Gang Camp visit their website: www.victoryjunction.org. Steve Young can be tracked by his email address: email@example.com.