Hamilton County’s Foster Youth Celebrate Graduation with Country Singer Jimmy Wayne

Hamilton County Job and Family Services will celebrate the hard work and dedication of 48 foster youth with country music recording artist Jimmy Wayne at Wednesday’s “Celebration of Dreams” ceremony.

The 15th annual event will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 12 at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley. Each
year the celebration honors the foster youth who have overcome tough odds to graduate high school.

This year, Wayne – who is presented in partnership with the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./US
Bank Foundation – will both sing and talk about his own experience in the child welfare system.
Wayne grew up in Kings Mountain, NC. By the time he was 14, he had attended 12 different schools
in two years. When he was 15, he found himself in juvenile detention for running away from a group
home. At 16, he was living on the streets, until he was taken in by a North Carolina couple, Bea and
Russell Costner.

“If the Costners hadn’t stepped up and given me a home, I would not have survived,” Wayne has
said. “Every good thing that has happened for me, I owe to them taking a chance on a pissed off,
long haired, tattooed kid.”

But despite a difficult childhood, Wayne has gone on to become an accomplished singer and
songwriter. The title song of Wayne’s 2008 album, “Do You Believe Me Now” topped the country
music charts. He has also become a foster care advocate, walking across America to raise awareness.
Wednesday, Wayne will share his story with 48 teens who have had to overcome similar obstacles.
Most have experienced abuse, neglect and separation from their families. Some have been in
numerous schools or faced other obstacles on the path to graduation. The ceremony will honor the
teens and those that helped them get there – including caseworkers, mentors, CASAs and guardian
ad litems.

“All of our graduates have faced obstacles that many of us cannot even imagine,” Hamilton County
Job and Family Services Director Moira Weir said. “But these kids have already shown they have an
amazing amount of perseverance. They have already proven they have the ability to beat the odds
and make a bright future for themselves.”

Weir said for many of Wednesday’s graduates, the ceremony won’t mark an end, but a beginning that will include college, trade school or other successes.
Hamilton County Job and Family Services currently serves about 1,000 foster children on any given
day. Individuals interested in adoption or becoming a foster parent should call (513) 632-6366 or
visit www.hckids.org.

About Hamilton County Job and Family Services
Hamilton County Job and Family Services administers federal, state and local programs for those in
need. The Department helps with local child protection, elderly protection, child care, child support
enforcement, workforce development, cash assistance, food assistance and Medicaid disbursement.
Servicing Hamilton County since 1947, the Department helps hundreds of thousands each year and
is accredited by the Council on Accreditation, an international, independent, not-for-profit child and
family service accrediting organization

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