Eight years ago today, on Aug. 1, 2010, Jimmy Wayne finished his Meet Me Halfway Walk, with a broken foot, in Phoenix, Ariz. The 1,700-mile trek, which Wayne undertook to raise awareness about homeless youth and foster children, began on Jan. 1, 2010, in Nashville.

“I grew up in foster care, and I know how important it is when one person helps a child,” Wayne tells The Boot, explaining 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.”

When Wayne began the Meet Me Halfway Walk, his music career was soaring: He had notched six Top 20 singles and was signed to the Valory Music Co., which had released his sophomore album, Do You Believe Me Now, in 2008. But during the holiday season in 2009, the North Carolina native realized that he wanted to do more to help those struggling with many of the issues he once faced.

“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, 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]?’”

Wayne faced many challenges on his walk, including breaking his foot four days before he finished his trek. The singer also found out during his walk, via e-mail, that he had been dropped from his record label. But in spite of the setbacks, Wayne remained undeterred.

“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 said at the time.

Wayne's journey was chronicled in the book Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way, which is available for purchase on Amazon.

This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.

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