By Melissa Soria

Pharos-Tribune staff writer

Logansport resident Diane Carter knows what it’s like to lose a child.

In May 1999, her son Brent was in a fatal car accident. He was 18.

NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie also lost a son, Adam. In turn, they founded the Victory Junction Gang Camp in 2004 in honor of their late son.

The Victory Junction Gang Camp “enriches the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses by creating camping experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun, empowering, physically safe and medically sound.”

Carter says that her husband, Roger, and she have always been NASCAR fans. More importantly, they can identify with what the Pettys have gone through. So she decided to start planning a local event to raise money for the organization.

“It’s basically a tribute to my son,” Carter explains.

The July 29 event has received more support than Carter thought was possible.

“It’s huge,” she said of the event, which will take place at the Logansport Mall from 1 to 5 p.m. and will feature more than 200 celebrity auction items and an appearance from noon to 2 p.m. from Logansport native and NASCAR driver, Boston Reid. Terry Rogers will be the auctioneer at the event.

“This is overwhelming to me,” Carter said of all of the support.

Carter sent out 1,800 letters in January to celebrities, businesses, writers, sports figures and musicians. She received a lot of feedback — in the form of packages bearing autographed pictures and books, hotel packages, sports jerseys, an autographed racing helmet and fiddle, posters, T-shirts and hats.

“And we’re still getting more,” she says. “It’s really exciting getting the mail.”

Some of the items featured are an one-night stay at The Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, a Swedish massage and manicure by The Secret Goddess Salon and Day Spa, two tickets to Holiday World-Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, gift certificate for VIP tour and wine tasting for six people at the Chateau Chantel Winery in Traverse City, Mich., an one-night stay at The Sheraton Hotel and Suites at Keystone at the Crossing in Indianapolis, and an Anton Breton Fiddle autographed by Charlie Daniels.

Also being auctioned are autographed photos from Barbara Streisand, John Madden, Ray Romano, Mariah Carey, David Spade, former president and first lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, K.D. Lang, first lady Barbara Bush, Regis and Kelly, Quincy Jones, Jerry Rice, Toby Keith, Andre Agassi and Denzel Washington.

The Victory Junction Gang Camp is a year-round camp that provides sessions to children ages seven to 15. Campers and families attending the camp can take part in all kinds of activities like boating and fishing, swimming, arts and crafts, horseback riding and more.

It has a racing theme with the sight, sounds, look and feel of a race track. Victory Junction’s 75-acre North Carolina site has more than 36 buildings, including a dining hall, gym, theater, therapeutic equestrian center, arts and crafts center, race shop, and 16 camper cabins.

The children who attend Victory Junction would not otherwise be able to attend camp because of their special needs. No child or family will have to pay to attend the camp. The organization runs solely from donations.

“It’s great to help a charity like them,” Carter says. “I am so excited to get a chance to do this.”

Carter said that she wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of local merchants.

She said that her goal is to raise at least $5,000.

Melissa Soria may be reached at 732-5143 or via e-mail at melissa.soria@pharostribune.com

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