The blog for Project Meet Me Halfway

Happy Thanks-receiving & Thanks-giving Day

Bea and Jimmy

Every time I open my refrigerator and reach into the top drawer and remove that red and white glass bottle of Coca-Cola it takes me back to a time when a 75-year-old woman named Bea handed me an ice cold Coca-Cola over the fence every week when I cut her grass.

It was 1989, the same year the Berlin wall fell. I was 16 years old and homeless. My walls were up to say the least. I didn’t trust anyone. I just wanted to work, earn money and buy food. I wasn’t about to let my guard down and wouldn’t get close to anyone.

Week after week Bea handed me an ice cold Coca-Cola over the fence and we would talk. Or I should say, she would talk. She’d talk about simple things like the weather or her wood-working business or the job I was doing. Little by little those walls around me began to crumble.

Toward the end of the summer, Bea brought a Coca-Cola out to the fence beside the apple tree like she did every week but this time she didn’t talk about the weather or her wood shop or yard work. Instead, she asked me where I lived. I told her, “Awe, up the road.” I didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t have a home and was living on the streets. She said that she and her husband had been talking and wanted to know if I would be interested in moving into their home.

I took them up on their offer and moved into their spare bedroom. I figured they’d eventually make me leave; but they didn’t. They gave me an opportunity to go back to high school, graduate from college and pursue my dream of writing and performing music.

Jimmy holding Coca Cola bottle

I’ll never forget that night in 2009 when I walked off stage at Madison Square Garden in New York City en route to my dressing room. I thought about Bea handing me that ice cold Coca-Cola back in 1989, and where I was standing at that moment twenty years later. Those hallways backstage at the Garden reminded me of a classic Coca-Cola commercial where a young boy ran up to Mean Joe Greene and handed him a Coke. I could almost see a young fella running up to me and saying “Sir, I’m a foster kid – just like you were.” I then imagined Bea’s hand holding a Coca-Cola and reaching towards mine; and me passing it on to the young boy to share the gift of Coca-Cola with him. Because to me, it’s more than a soft drink; it’s a reminder of Bea’s loving heart that believed in me and encouraged me to ‘be somebody.’ Somebody who’s willing to do the right thing and make a difference in this world.

bottles of Coke reading "Jimmy" and "Wayne"

This Thanksgiving Day I’m thankful for the amazing gifts Bea gave to me; a home, an opportunity to complete my education and pursue my dreams. I’m thankful that I can give it forward through my book Walk To Beautiful and inspire many people to do exactly what Bea did for me. And, I’m thankful for Coca-Cola because that’s where it all started.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Have a Coca-Cola and take a moment to share who you’re thankful for. #walktobeautifulcoke

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8 Responses to “ Happy Thanks-receiving & Thanks-giving Day ”

  1. Amy Doll says:

    There is a young man that I have been helping out for the last few years (I met him at church where he was always the first one out the door to help the elderly out of their cars, and the first to be there to shovel the sidewalk with it snowed) who is has been in foster care for a year now. His story is SOOOO similar to yours it is unbelievable (without the elderly couple – because he was lucky enough to have a family willing to get certified for foster care AND follow through with it and the music – although he is an AMAZING photographer at just 17!!). He is looking forward to getting out of the foster care system, but honestly that scares me to death!!! Luckily he has a great church family (although he doesn’t get up and come early on Sundays anymore because he has a comfortable, safe home now) that will hopefully be able to help guide him through the transition. I’m glad your Mom came to your graduation, but unfortunately I HIGHLY doubt that HIS mother will. SO sad, but I’m SOOOO glad that there are people like you out there that are using their fame to raise awareness of SUCH an important issue!!! I would LOVE to get involved in your organization, and am also looking in to volunteering with CASA but am open to suggestions on other organizations that I could help with that will make a difference in these kids’ lives!! Keep singing!! I hope my daughter will be able to be on the stage singing with you one day – at 11 it is mostly musical theatre she does, but she has an amazing, giving heart like you and would LOVE to be able to help kids like these!! Keep up the GREAT work!!!

  2. Maria Lopez says:

    Love this story. All it takes is one person to believe in you. As a teacher I know that I must always believe and encourage them always. I might be the only hope they have! I always share your story with my students. Thanks for always inspiring me!

  3. Judy Freeman says:

    You and your books and music are truly an inspiration! Betsy Mazzuola gave me an autographed copy of your book… I treasure the book and Betsy’s kindness and friendship. She is a very, very special soul. I bought Walk to Beautiful and Paper Angels on Audiobooks and have listened to each of them twice… so far! My daughter, Kelly, and I will be shopping for our Angel Tree kids on black Friday. We do this every year, but this year it will be even more meaningful since I now have a much clearer perspective of the trials and difficulties at risk children face. I have also downloaded all your music and that’s the only playlist I have listened to for weeks and weeks. You have a beautiful voice and I am also touched by all your music. Thank you for all you do and for your enormous giving heart!! New bucket list entry: See Jimmy Wayne perform live!

  4. Flor says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing story, am truly blessed reading your book. Keep sharing it and continue to be a blessing. Happy thanksgiving!

  5. Elizabeth Lackey says:

    I enjoyed reading this blog, Jimmy. It’s nice to be reminded how the kindness that was shown to you from Bea and Russel made such a positive change in the direction of your life. Look at you now, you are able to show kindness to others to make a positive change in their life and that’s really cool. I’m thankful for so many things in my life; family, friends, mentors, the opportunity to do what I enjoy doing, my health, the list goes on and on. I like to live my life by the creed that thankfulness is just not for Thanksgiving, it should be all year long. I try not to take time or blessings for granted and tell the people in my life how much I appreciate them and how thankful I am for them often. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  6. Kathy Wagner says:

    You are in inspiration! Happy Thanksgiving :)

  7. Shelly Wemhoener says:

    I read your book and shared it with my non-fiction “book report” club and we all loved it. Your story affirms hope and encourages us all to treat others with compassion at all times.

  8. Randy Thomas says:

    You were the dreamer, Bea was the dream catcher. It took more than one to paint your dream, but together you did it. Nice accomplishment for all of you 😉