Jimmy Wayne Continues to Share His Story on Walk Across U.S.
Jimmy Wayne has returned to the road on his Meet Me Halfway solo-walk across America. The singer reached the halfway marker in early April when he crossed into the Amarillo, Texas city limits and decided a much-needed break was necessary to regroup after walking for nearly four months. So after six days off from the walk, which he has undertaken to raise awareness for at-risk teens aging out of foster care systems, Jimmy slipped back into his Marmot walking clothes on Saturday morning (Apr. 24) to pick up where he left off in Clovis, N.M. He says the minute he was dressed, he felt his whole attitude change.
"It's kind of like when you see the movie 'Spider-Man' or any of those action heroes," Jimmy tells The Boot. "You see them once they put their suit on. It's kind of like they're in their zone. It's like, wow! You see that look in their eyes, and they don't really have to say anything. I didn't feel like Spider-Man, but you put on your party dress and you feel like dancing, right? I put on my shirt, and I felt like walking. It felt like I was ready."
The Boot was there as Jimmy's feet hit the ground Saturday morning, and we walked the first few miles with the singer, who ultimately trekked 14.5 total miles for the day. "Taking six days off just reminds me that I'm not supposed to be doing this ... I'm not supposed to be putting myself through this," Jimmy said with a laugh, walking along the shoulder of Highway 60. "What [taking time off] does is allows your body to take a break and realize where you actually hurt because the pain starts setting in. It's like, "Oh my God ... I didn't know that was hurting. I'm walking so much that I get into a zone, and I don't really realize the damage that I'm doing. Is your body really supposed to walk between 15 and 20 miles per day? Taking those days off to let some bruises and blisters heal on my feet got my whole body started talking. It started saying, 'Hey ... I've been hurting for two months now and you haven't been paying attention to this, so now I'm going to speak my mind!'"
As Jimmy reflects back on the past several weeks since launching project Meet Me Halfway from Nashville, Tenn. on New Year's Day, he admits it's been hard to recollect all the moments on the trek. Luckily for the singer, he has been keeping a daily journal of all that he encounters and the feelings that have come over him -- something that he hopes can eventually be turned into new music.
"The way I see this walk and the whole thing is when I think of old-time country singers, I think of their story," he says. "Like Loretta Lynn -- you think of 'Coal Miner's Daughter.' She sang about what she knew. Dolly Parton -- 'Coat of Many Colors.' She sang about what she knew. So why can't I sing about what I know without being persecuted ... without someone saying, 'Oh, you're just using that as a platform.' It's the only thing I know. What I know is what I've always considered the gift of experience. Why be given all of this experience and not be allowed to sing about it or talk about it or to share the story with people. It's my story and my music combined. You can't separate the two. It's who I am; it's what I do. The walk is part of who I am because the walk was inspired by my experience in life. I'm not trying to capitalize on either one of them. I'm just trying to get the story out there ... one way or the other. If it's going to be through music, great, because I think that's the universal language. So why not do it through song."
Although he has yet to start a song, he says the inspiration is definitely there. "I ran across a little patch that Lt. Col. [Jason] Garkey gave me in March when he came out to walk with me for the second time. It was really inspiring to see that the day after my six days off. I felt like the inspiration to write a song is there, I just don't know the title yet to the song. When this walk is over, I'm sure I'll be inspired to write some music about it. If I was inspired to write after those six days off, I can only imagine what I am going to be thinking after six months."
On Sunday (April25), The Boot continued along on Jimmy's journey, which included a stop at a local coffeehouse, The Java Loft. As the singer walked in the doors, he proudly held close his bottle of Coffee-Mate Hazelnut Creamer (his guilty pleasure). "I bet you've never had someone come in here before bringing their own creamer!" he said as the barista shook his head. "No, I can't say that I have seen that in the two years I've worked here," the young man replied with a look Jimmy gets often on his walk -- one of confusion as to why he's dressed the way he is -- an orange reflector vest and a large fanny-pack strapped around his waist.
"I'm walking halfway across America," Jimmy said as he ordered extra strong coffee (with room for creamer, of course). The coffee shop workers gathered around the counter as Jimmy explained the purpose of project Meet Me Halfway, but not revealing that he was a country singer.
"That is very cool, man," the barista told Jimmy. "That is a very 'green' thing to do, too! The coffee's on us ... that's the least I can do for someone who is walking all that way!"
Jimmy made himself comfortable on a couch located in the loft above the cafe, where he answered emails and talked more about the importance of his mission. "I can't imagine what it must be like to be a kid who's homeless and being depressed," he says. "That's why a lot of them drink and turn to drugs -- to just get away and escape. I don't know why I never did that. I just don't know what happened. I don't know how I got here and escaped all of that ... drugs, alcohol, violence, gangs, hanging out with the wrong people. When you're out there and you're running and you're having to move like I was, you couldn't be intoxicated. You had to be on your feet. I have an addictive personality, as you can tell with the coffee!"
Before heading back out to walk, Jimmy received a phone call from the Clint & Sons Premium Beef Jerky company of White Deer, Texas, who gave the singer boxes of their product to snack on while walking through their town last month. The call was to offer a sponsorship to Meet Me Halfway. "If people make an online order through their website, one hundred percent of the proceeds will go to support the support vehicle, my driver, and the overhead for Meet Me Halfway for the duration of this walk," Jimmy says. "And we need that! Plus ... it's the best beef jerky I've ever had, so it's great to have them on board!
"When you're out here spending $350 a day -- and that's not counting the flights -- that's a lot of money to keep this thing going," Jimmy continues. "I'm out here walking, but I have to pay the driver, I have to pay for the gas, I have to pay for my driver's hotel ... that's every day. Then when we fly out, I have to pay for both of our flights. That's a lot of money. It costs me to keep this thing on the road. People out there are always asking me what I need. I'm the last person who will ask people for stuff, and we can't possibly carry around all the stuff that people give us. There's just nowhere to put it. Not that I'm soliciting help, I'm just saying if people are just determine to bring me a sweatshirt or a jar of jelly, I would ask them don't get me a shirt -- just get a gas card to keep the overhead down on project Meet Me Halfway. We have room for gas cards and hotel coupons ... and hazelnut creamer!"
To keep up on Jimmy's journey, follow him on Twitter or log onto the official website for project Meet Me Halfway. Jimmy expects to arrive in Phoenix, Ariz. at HomeBase Youth Services sometime in June.
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