Jimmy Wayne’s ‘Walk to Beautiful’ Chronicles Personal Journey
Jimmy Wayne's autobiography, 'Walk to Beautiful: the Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way,' is now available. The book, written with New York Times best-selling author Ken Abraham, chronicles the singer's unfathomable childhood, shuffling between foster care, detention homes and homelessness, with a mother who was in and out of jail and psychiatric wards.
Wayne was rescued, in many ways, by both a high school guidance counselor and an elderly couple, Russell and Bea Costner (now deceased). He graduated high school, attended college and ultimately found his way to Nashville, where he scored a series of hits, including the chart-topping single, 'Do You Believe Me Now.'
Plagued by the ongoing plight of foster children in America, Wayne embarked on a 1700-mile hike, called Meet Me Halfway, from Nashville, Tenn., to Phoenix, Ariz., in 2010 to raise awareness of the needs of children in foster care. A formidable task, the singer-songwriter completed it in seven months, finishing the trek with a broken foot that August.
"I grew up in foster care, and I know how important it is when one person helps a child," Wayne explains to The Boot of his motivation for the walk. "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."
For Abraham, who has helped write the biographies of some of the most famous faces in America, including the late Payne Stewart, Chuck Norris, George Foreman and Joe Gibbs, among others, chronicling Wayne's story had a profound impact on his own life.
"I am always fascinated by someone who has encountered awful adversities in life but has overcome them and gone on to help others," Abraham notes. "Lots of people endure pain, and that certainly is noble, but not everyone turns their pain into something that is helpful and encouraging to others. Jimmy Wayne has done that; he has learned how to take some horrible experiences, and he uses them to point others who have been hurt, or may still be hurting, to a path filled with hope."
When Wayne left for the walk, he was signed to Valory Music Group and had just scored his seventh Top 20 single with a cover of the Hall & Oates song 'Sara Smile,' which included the duo. Unfortunately, while Wayne's career was soaring when he left, by the time he returned to Music City, he was also unemployed.
Wayne says a big shot at the label at the time "donated $50,000 at the beginning of the walk and vowed his support, but then dropped me in an email during the middle of the walk while I was walking through the desert. I finally received the donation after the walk seven months later."
Still, with all that he has already overcome, he remains more determined than ever to continue moving full-speed ahead with both his career and his advocacy for foster care awareness.
"I'm doing the same thing now as I was doing in the beginning -- everything I can possibly think of to raise awareness for these kids," he maintains. "Writing books. Filming movies. Filming a documentary. Writing and recording a record."
For Abraham, with more than 10 million books in print, 'Walk to Beautiful' was a personal reminder for him as well.
"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,'" he 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."
Wayne will perform at the Grand Ole Opry Tuesday night (Oct. 7). Following his performance, both Wayne and Abraham will be in the Opry bookstore to sign copies of 'Walk to Beautiful.'
Order ''Walk to Beautiful: the Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way' here.