During his teens, Jimmy Wayne bounced around the North Carolina foster-home system and lived for a time as a homeless person. It was only when an elderly married couple took him in for six years that he found some stability and was able to set himself on a path toward his current stardom.
He’s not forgotten what it was like living without a home, and he hopes to make the rest of the nation aware beginning New Year’s Day when he begins a “Meet Me Halfway” journey. He plans to walk from Nashville to Phoenix, sleeping outdoors, navigating the harsh temperatures of winter and providing regular online updates that will call attention to the tragedy of teen homelessness.
“I’ve had a lot of friends who… I lived in group homes with that ended up dead,” Jimmy said during a press conference at Monroe Harding, a Music City facility for at-risk kids. “When I worked in prison as an officer, I had a lot of friends come in as convicts. I had a foster brother who I spent half of my life with come in as a convict. It was a very hard experience seein’ that stuff.”
“There’s statistically 581,000 foster kids in America,” he added. “Half of ‘em become homeless. That’s sad.”
It’s 1,441 miles from Nashville’s Monroe Harding to Phoenix’s HomeBase Youth Services, the facility Jimmy has targeted as his finish line. He aspires to walk 25 miles per day, which would make it a 58-day trek. That would put him in Arizona on Feb. 27.
Along the way, he plans to update America on his journey through Twitter and through interviews with the media, including morning radio shows. How he’ll keep his cell phone and GPS powered while walking is just one of numerous issues he’ll face. Where to sleep, how to take a shower — many of the basics are up in the air. And that’s how he believes his trip should be.
“I think your survival instinct kicks in,” he said. “You don’t become homeless with a survival kit. You just figure it out. That’s what I did. I remember walking in convenience stores and askin’ the clerk if I can have some food. And I’ll never forget the ones that gave me food and the ones that ran me off. And I’ll be tweeting those experiences. I hope to experience these things so people can really live vicariously through me and I can share the experience of that story with them and those let-downs, if you will, the people that push you down and tell you to leave.”
Jimmy started hiking earlier this year, and that exercise will pay off as he takes on the physical challenge of walking the equivalent of a marathon every day for two months or more. Once he decided to take this journey a month ago, he began hiking 10-15 miles daily, building up his stamina for the road ahead.
“Some of the kids that become homeless don’t have an opportunity to condition for that,” he shrugged.
Jimmy’s open to fans and supporters joining along the way. But he warns that it’s not something to do if you just want to meet the guy who sings “Do You Believe Me Now” and “Sara Smile.”
“I’m walking,” he explained. “I’m not stopping. So if you’re not into walkin’, you’ll be left.”
For additional information on “Meet Me Halfway” and Wayne, please visit www.jimmywayne.com. To learn more about HomeBase or make a donation to this organization, please visit www.hbys.org. For more information on Monroe Harding or make a donation to this organization, please visit www.monroeharding.org.