Thirteen years ago today, on Jan. 1, 2010, singer-songwriter Jimmy Wayne kicked off the new year by starting a 1,700-mile walk, called Meet Me Halfway, to raise awareness about youth aging out of the foster care system.

Wayne first had the idea for the walk in December 2009, while enjoying the comforts of his warm home: "This guilty feeling came over me," he recalls. "Here I am, living life. I'm comfortable. I'd been on the Brad Paisley tour for a lot of the year, and I just didn't feel like I'd done anything to make a difference.

"I got to thinking," Wayne adds, "and I said, 'What if I walk halfway across the country to raise awareness [about youth who age out of the foster care system with nowhere to go]?'"

And so, Wayne decided to walk from Nashville, Tenn., to Phoenix, Ariz. He left on the first day of the year, when the wind chill in Music City made the temperature feel like a brisk 18 degrees -- but the weather wasn't going to deter the North Carolina native, who had a personal connection to the important cause.

“I grew up in foster care, and I know how important it is when one person helps a child,” Wayne tells The Boot. “I've always wanted to share my story so that it would help others. I tried sharing it through my music, but it’s impossible to do that in three minutes."

When Wayne began his trek, he was signed to the Valory Music Group and was climbing the charts with the title track of his third studio album, "Sara Smile." He intended to complete the journey and then return to his music career, but he found out during his walk that his record label had dropped him from its roster. In spite of the setback, Wayne continued his walk and arrived in Phoenix on Aug. 1, 2010.

In 2014, Wayne released the book Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way, which chronicles his inspiring journey.

“It is impossible to read Walk to Beautiful without thinking, ‘If Jimmy Wayne can overcome the horrendous obstacles in his life, I can surely deal with my puny problems,’” the book's co-author, Ken Abraham, says. “That alone makes the book worthwhile, but that he was willing to walk halfway across America to help some kids he’s never met is truly an astounding aspect of Jimmy’s story. And the story continues ... he’s still out there, more concerned about helping kids than he is in promoting his own career.”

Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way is available for purchase on Amazon.

This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Angela Stefano and Gayle Thompson.

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