Jimmy Wayne is a country singer, who just released a new CD, Sara Smile. The song “Do You Believe Me Now,” from his previous record, was number one on the country chart for three weeks. He toured with Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley.
Michael Oher was the 23rd overall pick in the NFL draft and just signed a 5-year, $13.8 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
Both boys are amazing success stories. But both boys came from troubled backgrounds. Odds were staked against them, but they both found a way, Jimmy Wayne through music and Michael Oher through football.
Oher's story was recently told through the movie The Blind Side (starring Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, and country singer Tim McGraw). The movie has grossed over $164,000,000. The story is very powerful and the movie is incredible.
Oher’s mother had a drug addiction and was therefore not available. He was sent to multiple foster homes and went to eleven schools in nine years. He ended up homeless. Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, a typical Memphis family, took Oher in. He graduated from high school, then got a scholarship to Ole Miss and was drafted last year – a major success story.
Jimmy Wayne says The Blind Side was a “parallel to my own story that I've shared with the world over and over in my shows for the past eleven years.” He adds, “I felt like I was reading my journal,” and the movie “allowed me to see my own story as a spectator for once.”
He goes on to describe the similarities between the two stories: “Like Mike, I had a family that randomly took me into their home when I was 16 years old…a woman named Beatrice Costner talked her husband Russell into allowing me to move into their home. I remember folding the blankets up each morning and leaving them on the sofa just as Big Mike did in The Blind Side. I remember sitting at the dinner table alone as family gathered in the living room to watch TV.”
Both men were success stories because of multiple factors. One of the major factors to their success is that both of them had real-life guardian angels. For Mike, it was the Tuohys and for Jimmy, it was the Costners. Jimmy Wayne said that The Blind Side “showed me how lucky I am to have someone like the Costners become a part of my life just as the family did in Mike’s.”
"Bea and Russell took a chance on me, and I was certainly no poster child for adoption," Wayne says, "I was this teenager with long hair and tattoos, but they saw past that to the scared kid I was. They met me halfway by offering me a place to live and the opportunity to go back to school. But in turn I had to meet them halfway by helping myself, which meant studying, doing chores and following the rules. They provided me with a way to help myself make a life. They gave me a home, love and respect."
Jimmy Wayne turned to music, moving to Nashville. He has released three albums. He has even said that “Stories such as Mike’s and my own are the reasons why I write the songs I do.” A lot of his songs (“Kerosene Kid,” "Where You're Going," “Paper Angels," "Elephant Ears," and “I Love You This Much") talk about growing up in a disadvantaged home and making it out of that situation.
To raise awareness of homelessness, Jimmy Wayne is going to walk halfway across the country from Nashville, Tennessee to Phoenix, Arizona as a part of his “Meet Me Halfway” campaign. The walk will begin at 10AM CT on January 1st – the middle of winter. The high is supposed to be 46 degrees; the low is going to be 28 degrees.
“It’s going to be cold, rainy and maybe even snowing and that ground I sleep on at night is going to be really hard," he says. "But that’s what the homeless are dealing with each and every winter they go without a home of their own.”
Donations are appreciated. All donations will go to HomeBase Youth Services. They work with homeless people 18-21 in Arizona. HomeBase Youth Services’ goal is to “teach at-risk and homeless youth how to become self-sufficient adults.”
Everyone has those days where they just want to give up. Nothing seems to be going right and everything seems to be going wrong. These two cases teach us never to give up. As Jimmy says, “These stories give hope to all of us.”