JIMMY WAYNE GOES THE DISTANCE
On my way home from visiting family in Georgia I stopped in North Carolina to hike up Crowder's Mountain with none other than country music artist, Jimmy Wayne. After opening for country superstars like Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley, he was back in his home town to perform a benefit concert at Gardner Webb University in support of the Cleveland-Rutherford Kidney Association. For the past 4 years he has organized a hike on the day of the concert followed by a cold treat at Tony's Ice Cream in downtown Gastonia.
Jimmy lead the way of the one-mile hike occasionally dropping back to check on the slower hikers then sprinting ahead to the front of the line. At the top we paused to catch our breath and take in the beautiful views, enjoying the sunny afternoon. Jimmy casually chatted with folks and posed for photos before heading back down the mountain.
That evening as we gathered at the convocation center at Gardner Webb University there were 1,200 foster kids in attendance thanks to the "Cheeks in the Seats" donation and sponsorship program. Jimmy Wayne has not forgotten his roots nor where he came from. He sang many crowd favorites including his number one hit, "Do You Believe Me Now." He shared his story of bouncing from various foster homes, feeling worthless, and living the life of a juvenile delinquent until an elderly couple took him in at the age of 15, loving him into wholeness. His is a message of faith and hope which he shares unashamedly knowing that there are many kids in similar situations today.
Not only is Jimmy Wayne talented vocally but he is blessed with the ability to connect with his audience and communicate from the heart. His unique gift of storytelling has translated into a successful career of songwriting. I was thoroughly entertained as he shared his life and music with us throughout the evening.
As I stood to go I was painfully reminded of our earlier climb on Crowder's Mountain. Jimmy Wayne has faced many challenges struggling up the mountain of life - "believe in yourself," "you are valuable," "you have a purpose in life" are words that have gotten him to the top. Thanks for the inspiration Jimmy!