Jimmy Wayne sheds light on the foster care system
April 18, 2017
Filed under A & E
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“Why don’t I do something to raise awareness for 30,000 children aging out of foster care?” The question Jimmy Wayne asked himself after realizing he wanted to make a sacrifice for his foster “brothers and sisters.”
A former foster child and current singer-songwriter, Jimmy Wayne shared his gripping story with CSUSM on April 5 at the USU ballroom. This event is one of the many installments of the Arts and Lectures Series.
Wayne’s story in the foster system had the audience in a frenzy of emotions, from light chuckles to saddened sighs. He lived in multiple homes with different families and never got completely acquainted with any of them. Although, one day, when Wayne was desperately searching for work, he met a married couple, Beatrice and Russell, who offered work mowing their lawn.
Soon enough, mowing the couples’ grass became a recurring job.
Wayne said, “Every week I was on time and it was the same scenario [after cutting the grass], Coca-Cola, conversation, 20 bucks.” As time passed, the woman eventually offered Wayne a place in her and Russell’s home. He was extremely grateful, he could finally wash his clothes, take a shower and have his own room.
With the help of his social worker, Beatrice and Russell, Wayne made his way back into school. “If you’re going to be helped, it starts with you. You have to be willing to help yourself first, then everyone else will help you,” he said.
Wayne attended community college, found a security job at a prison, and later landed multiple hits as a country singer-songwriter, some of which he performed live for the audience in the USU ballroom.
After years of performing, Wayne embarked on a walk from Nashville, Tennessee to Phoenix, Arizona in order to raise awareness for foster youth.
After seven months of alternating between walking and performing shows, he finished his 1,700 mile trek.
Wayne is the author of “Walk to Beautiful,” a three-time New York Times best-selling memoir, and novel “Paper Angels.”
In the Q&A session following the show, Dr. Joe-Joe McManus asked what was next for Wayne. Wayne said he would like to create a movie out of “Walk to Beautiful” and plans to do more work surrounding foster care awareness.