Jimmy Wayne’s epic walk on behalf of homeless kids reached the halfway point Saturday with a celebration in Amarillo, Texas. Determined to walk from Nashville to Phoenix, he was greeted warmly in the Lone Star State by a group of media, with a ceremony — including a performance by Jimmy — at Hastings Record Store and with a party at the El Tejavan Mexican restaurant.
It was an appropriately symbolic act — Jimmy’s been welcomed along the way by people offering a free meal or a cup of coffee. He’s even had complete strangers open their homes so he could sleep indoors instead of in a tent. In fact, in one of his recent Tweets, Jimmy apologized for spilling coffee in the kitchen of one of his hosts.
His Meet Me Halfway walk was intended to bring attention to the plight of teenagers in the foster-care system. They often age out of the system with no real work skills and no place to live. Jimmy, who was homeless for a period when he was a teen in North Carolina’s foster-care program, has discovered along the way that even as an adult, his life has been dramatically shaped by those experiences from his past.
“It makes me wish I had a lot of friends,” Jimmy told The Tennessean after being taken in to others’ homes along the walk. “I see these people with families and friends coming over, and I don’t have those things. I’ve never had those things — the friends you grew up with. I’ve always been alone and that [stinks]. I’m not trying to whine, but when you’re in those homes you don’t make friends because they just rip them out and take them into another facility. These people I met on the road, we’re going to stay friends. It feels like I’m catching up on that part of my life.”
When Jimmy set out from Nashville on New Year’s Day in biting cold, staying warm was his biggest issue. He’s since encountered temperatures above 90 degrees, and staying cool and hydrated are now among his top concerns.
Originally he’d hoped to travel 20 miles a day. He’s hit that mark a few times, though the trip has taken longer than he had anticipated. Add in a few occasions when he’s left the route to meet previous concert obligations and he reached the halfway mark — 977 miles later — on the 93rd day of the trip.
If he sustains that pace the rest of the way, Jimmy’s likely to arrive at his final destination in Phoenix July 5.