Country singer Jimmy Wayne knows a cold wind will be blowing as he embarks on a winter charity walk for the homeless, leaving Nashville, Tenn., on New Year's Day to cross two-thirds of the country.
Wayne will walk to Phoenix seeking to raise money and awareness for young adults who are leaving the foster-care system with few or no resources. Along the way he plans to sleep on the frozen ground and brave bitter cold.
"I think if you're going to make a statement, you can't make a good, honest statement when it's 75 degrees," Wayne told The Associated Press by telephone from Nashville on Monday. "I think making a statement is when it's at the coldest time of the year."
Wayne said he hopes to raise money for HomeBase Youth Services, an Arizona-based charity that helps adults 18 to 21. He said many young adults struggle after leaving foster care.
"There's kids out there that are losing their homes who are aging out of the system who have nowhere to go but homeless shelters," he said.
Wayne, who recently released a new album, "Sara Smile," will document the trip on Twitter and in blog entries on his Web site.
Wayne, 37, knows firsthand the life of kids who are cycling out of the foster-care system.
Wayne said he spent years in foster and group homes and was occasionally homeless growing up in North Carolina. He got a break when he was taken in at 17 by foster parents who gave him a safe environment.
"That's what I'm trying to do, bring awareness to this, hoping that people ... will get involved helping out these young adults," Wayne said.
After leaving Nashville, Wayne plans to cross the nation's midsection along Interstate 40, making the journey alone and without support crew. Wayne hopes people will be inspired to help, whether they donate money to HomeBase or help out with similar charities in their own communities.
"There's facilities like this in every state in America," Wayne said. "It's pretty simple to look it up and find out people can get involved in their own community."
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