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Jimmy announced the campaign at a media conference, Dec. 22, at Monroe Harding, a Nashville facility that provides at-risk youth a bridge toward independence and success through foster care and adoption services, residential housing and other programs.
Jimmy's goal is to walk from Nashville to Phoenix, beginning at 10:00 CT on Jan. 1 at Monroe Harding. His destination in Phoenix is HomeBase Youth Services, which provides essentials for homeless young adults. Jimmy, who spent his youth in and out of foster homes and was homeless for a time as a teenager, intends to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, especially at risk children, teens and young adults, and raise funds for organizations that benefit homeless youth.
“I realize beginning a mission like this in the dead of winter and walking through the middle of the country is going to be difficult, but I hope and pray I am up to the challenge,” Jimmy says. “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. But that’s what the homeless are dealing with each and every winter they go without a home of their own. Our country is too great for us to have people who are suffering so. And events of the past 12 to 14 months have increased the number of people—especially children and young adults—without a safe place to sleep. We as a nation have got to end homelessness and we've got to help these kids.”
Jimmy adds that he will be traveling alone with a sleeping bag and essential winter gear, provided by Marmot Sportswear. "I'll live like I Iived when I was 14," he explains. "I will be documenting the journey, Twittering and staying in contact with everyone. One thing that I will be missing," he adds with a smile, "is my morning coffee." He figures that at 25 miles a day, it will take him two months to reach Phoenix. Jimmy also explains that he has been preparing for this remarkable journey by walking around 10 or 15 miles a day as well as hiking.
Jimmy drew his inspiration to help the homeless from the example of Bea and Russell Costner, who gave him a home and a fresh start when he was only 16 years old. "Bea and Russell took a chance on me, and I was certainly no poster child for adoption," Jimmy 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."