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Jimmy Wayne will perform in Kingsport on Friday in support of CASA for Kids

Katherine Scoggins • Apr 25, 2013 at 12:06 PM

The mission of CASA for Kids, Inc., is to advocate for the best interest of the neglected/abused children referred to the juvenile court system in Sullivan and Hawkins counties. This is accomplished by recruiting and training dedicated community volunteers who then research and relay accurate information to the court and monitor the child’s situation. The courts are then able to have children end up in safe, permanent homes more quickly.

CASA is passionate about getting this information out to the public to increase awareness of the growing situation, but to also educate the community about CASA’s successes in resolving many of these cases. And while they do a good job of "spreading the word," nothing does a better job than hearing firsthand from someone who has successfully navigated the system and come out a healthier and better person.

Our community will have the rare opportunity to hear a moving first-hand account of someone who knows what it is like to be removed from a home, shuttled through various foster homes and finally finding a real home filled with love, encouragement and stability.

Jimmy Wayne, a balladeer, country music singer and songwriter, will share his life’s story through music and the spoken word on Friday, April 26, at Eastman’s Toy Reid Employee Center in Kingsport.

Show time is 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m.

There is no charge for the event, which is underwritten by the James and Laura Rogers Family Foundation. However, a $5 donation will be gratefully accepted and appreciated.

It was in April of 2011 that CASA for Kids’ Executive Director Connie Steere and Hawkins County Coordinators Suzanne Stanley and Russ Carlton first heard Jimmy Wayne. They and 1,400 other Court Appointed Special Advocates were in Chicago attending the National CASA Conference when Jimmy told his story.

"All three of us wished then, that someday, somehow, Jimmy Wayne could come and share his life story with our community," Steere said.

Jimmy Wayne survived a turbulent, abusive childhood. His father abandoned the family and his mother, a cocaine addict, went to prison. Jimmy Wayne’s stepfather tried to murder him, as a teen he was homeless, living by his wits on the street. Finally, Jimmy Wayne was taken in by a North Carolina couple, Russell and Beatrice Costner, who provided a nurturing and stable home and encouraged him to learn to play the guitar and write songs.

A natural storyteller, Jimmy Wayne weaves stories into his lyrics. His songs draw from his troubled childhood and reflect absent fathers, abuse, revenge, and the bad influence of negative people, but always resolve on a positive note.

His album, including "Do You Believe Me Now," soared to the top of the country charts. He has also toured with Brad Paisley and played Madison Square Garden.

Jimmy Wayne has made countless contributions in his personal fight against child abuse. In 2010, he walked across American to raise awareness of the problem, and, in Nashville in 2012, his testimony convinced Tennessee legislators to extend funding for foster children aging out of the system at 18 years until age 22.

Jimmy Wayne now serves as a national CASA spokesperson.

In fiscal year 2011/2012, eight staff members, 21 board members, and 119 CASA volunteers worked and advocated for 550 abused or neglected children. Unfortunately, CASA can currently only serve fewer than half the children who need and deserve a CASA volunteer.

If you would like to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate or help raise money so that CASA can grow and help these deserving children thrive in safe, permanent homes, an information table will be set up at the event.

At the end of the performance, CASA volunteers will be recognized and Jimmy Wayne will be available to sign copies of his book, "Paper Angels," and greet attendees.

For more information, contact www.casa4kidsinc.org or 423-247-1161.

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