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Walk to Beautiful

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Country singer songwriter Jimmy Wayne is getting a lot of media attention these days.  His latest book, "Walk to Beautiful"  hit the NY Times bestseller list and his earlier book, "Paper Angels", was made into a movie and premiered on cable TV last week.

But Wayne says he's happiest when he can be with kids who know his story because they are living it.

"A kid who has grown up in the system. You speak their language they trust you.  You start beating around the bush they sense it might be a little fake and they don't trust you."

Wayne spoke to more than 100 teenagers who are in Tennessee's foster care system. Teens who are where Jimmy Wayne was 26 years ago.  

Jimmy Wayne, "I was a foster kid growing up in foster care, in and out of foster care.  Living on the street, couch surfing, living with friends and strangers, group homes, aged out of the system when I was 16.

The stories from his childhood are nightmarish, when he was just 13, a raging, drunk step-father, 

"rammed this gun to the side of my head, pulled the trigger; somehow he didn't shoot me.  I ended up escaping that car.  My step dad ended up shooting someone.  When he did we went on the run."

Later he's with his mom and step dad on the run from police, "I hear my step dad say get out of the car.  I got out looking for my mom.  She's crying tells me I need to get my clothes; pulled out my clothes, gets back in the car and they drive off and they don't come back."

He's 13 alone in a strange town, with no one to call, "the next three years felt like pure hell...in and out of the system."

but, Jimmy Wayne's life turned around three years later. 


"I got here because when I was 16, a family in their mid 70's took me into their home.  Elderly couple named Beatrice and Russell.  They changed my life changed every cell in my body; gave me an opportunity to go to school, go to college, pursue my dream."

And years later Jimmy Wayne ended up in Nashville with hit songs and touring with Brad Paisley.  But after performing at Madison Square Garden something clicked 

"I called my manager I've got this idea.  I want to walk halfway across America to raise awareness for the plight of nearly 30, 000 children who are aging out at age 18 years."

In 2010 Jimmy walked from Nashville to Phoenix, his incredible journey took seven months.  Jimmy had a new audience now.  Lawmakers were listening and teens without families were inspired.  But to reach an even wider audience, Jimmy wrote his autobiography, "Walk to Beautiful."

"God's given me everything I need.  I don't ever have to be hungry again, I hope.  I'm not homeless like I once was. I'm being put into this position for a reason and I know that.  I'm very successful. That's the way I look at it."

 Jimmy Wayne hopes you'll be inspired to help in any way you see fit. 

Some people will feel called to become foster and/or adoptive parents.  And there are many other ways to help.  Get your church involved.  Offer what you can do to help.  Jimmy says, if you cut hair, do that for a kid.  If you can provide other services, do it.    

The best place to start is with the folks at Chattanooga Area Foster and Adoptive Care Association.  Their number is  423-834-7194    Email president@CAFACATN.org

Jimmy is the national spokesperson for CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.  The mission of CASA is to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courts.   They promote and support quality volunteer representation for children to provide each child a safe, permanent, nurturing home.

Here is a link to CASA in Hamilton County.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/org20302.jsp

And to learn more about Jimmy Wayne's incredible journey and his music,  go to   www.JimmyWayne.com

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