Tuesday, December 22, 2009
– Jimmy Wayne will launch his "Meet Me Halfway" campaign on Jan. 1, 2010 when he begins his solo walk halfway across America in Nashville. Wayne's intention is not only to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, especially at risk children, teens and young adults, but also raise funds for organizations that benefit homeless youth, including HomeBase Youth Services, a Phoenix-based organization that provides essentials for homeless young adults.
Wayne will begin the walk at Monroe Harding in Nashville, another organization that services at risk children and young adults. He plans to walk to Phoenix.
"I realize beginning a mission like this in the dead of winter and walking through the middle of the country is going to be difficult, but I hope and pray I am up to the challenge," Wayne said. "It's going to be cold, rainy and maybe even snowing and that ground I sleep on at night is going to be really hard. But that's what the homeless are dealing with each and every winter they go without a home of their own. Our country is too great for us to have people who are suffering so. And events of the past 12 to 14 months have increased the number of people-especially children and young adults-without a safe place to sleep. We as a nation have got to end homelessness and we've got to help these kids."
Wayne grew up in a variety of foster and group homes, and occasionally found himself homeless as a teen. He was given a second chance when Bea and Russell Costner gave him a home and fresh start when he was 16 years old. He has never forgotten the generosity of the couple, who were in their 70's when they took Wayne in.
"Bea and Russell took a chance on me, and I was certainly no poster child for adoption," Wayne said. "I was this teenager with long hair and tattoos, but they saw past that to the scared kid I was. They met me halfway by offering me a place to live and the opportunity to go back to school. But in turn I had to meet them halfway by helping myself, which meant studying, doing chores and following the rules. They provided me with a way to help myself make a life. They gave me a home, love and respect."
"It's been really hard to sit still and watch everything going on in our country since last year's troubles on Wall Street began," Wayne said. "While so many of these people received bailouts, and even bonuses, blue collar and Middle America has suffered. From my past, I know first hand what the homeless are experiencing-no roof over your head, no real certainty that there will be any food for the day and just hoping the pair of shoes on your feet lasts another winter. No one in this country should be faced with that kind of situation - especially kids. But unfortunately thousands of people are going though this each and every day."
Wayne selected HomeBase Youth Services as the recipient of any donations people care to make because of the work they do with homeless young adults (age 18-21). HomeBase was founded in 1991 to address the growing needs of at-risk and homeless youth age 21 and younger with street outreach, mobile medical outreach, employment and life skills training and substance abuse and mental health care.
"Because I was helped when I needed it, I want to try and help now," Wayne said. "If the bit of celebrity I have can help me raise awareness of this situation --that there are kids and young people out there who need our help, then I feel like I have accomplished my goal. I'm not asking people to come out and walk with me, but I am asking them to meet me halfway by getting involved-- donate money, adopt a kid, learn more about the foster child/foster parent program in your local community. There's so much one person can do, and so many ways they can make a difference. It just takes one person to help someone to a better life."
Marmot Sportswear is providing Wayne with essential cold weather clothing for Meet Me Halfway.