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Walking across America, Jimmy Wayne gives back

Country Standard Time Editorial, January 2010

Country performers often are heavily involved in charities and giving something back to the community. Often, they are in the form of concerts or donations of items. Once in awhile, something like Tim McGraw's softball extravaganza in Louisiana or a motorcycle ride a la Dierks Bentley.

But Jimmy Wayne deserves particular credit because he is devoting a large chunk of time in his "Meet Me Halfway" walk. The soulful country singer is in the midst of 1,660-mile walk taking him from Tennessee to Arizona.

This is not a one-shot event needless to say, and for that alone, Wayne is most worthy. He started trudging along through the cold weather of Tennessee on Jan. 1. Wayne's walk is intend to focus on the homeless, especially at risk children, teens and young adults along with raising funds for organizations that benefit homeless youth, including HomeBase Youth Services, a Phoenix- based organization that provides essentials for homeless young adults.

The game plan was for Wayne to sleep outside, but cold weather has put a dent in those plans. (He also may sleep at shelters or children's homes in cities where he can raise awareness) "I've had to sleep inside the past several nights because of these single digit temperatures," Wayne said last week. "That wasn't my plan, but sometimes Mother Nature wins. Next week the area will hit highs in the 40's, downright balmy compared to what it's been, and I hope to get some good hours of walking under my belt."

Wayne grew up in foster and group homes and also was homeless as a teen. At 16, he received a second chance when Bea and Russell Costner took him 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."

Wayne has a long way to go as he is currently in Brownsville, Tenn. For those interested in making donations to organizations who help homeless youth or the "Meet Me Halfway" project specifically, visit the "Meet Me Halfway" website at http://meetmehalfway.jimmywayne.com.