A new University of Georgia law student embarked on a 530-mile walking trek to raise awareness about homelessness in the United States.
Gordon Wayne, 22, carried a 30-pound backpack during his nearly four-week journey, where he encountered various hardships, battling unpredictable weather conditions, pain, and fatigue. But Wayne’s determination remained steadfast, fueled by his commitment to making a difference.
“My back has certainly been hurting many times over this journey,” he said. “But whenever I think about how much pain I’m in, all I have to do is remember why I’m out here.”
Wayne’s trek began in his hometown of Caroline County, Virginia, and ended in Athens, Georgia.
He said his journey was inspired by his personal experience with homelessness. Wayne said his family “essentially fell apart,” in 2019 and he had to start fending for himself. He worked 60-hour weeks at a Virginia amusement park while living out of his car.
“I was questioning why I was alive and what my purpose was,” he said. “I felt no one cared about me. I questioned if I was even human. I questioned everything.”
While still living in his car, Wayne earned an associate degree from Germanna Community College before enrolling at Boston College.
He made a similar walk before attending Boston College, journeying for over 16 days from his hometown to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
“I felt relieved knowing I’d have a dorm room to sleep in and fresh food to eat and would get medical attention,” he said. “I was excited about that, but on the other hand I couldn’t stop thinking about all the other people who were still dealing with the troubles I had been dealing with.”
Throughout his time at Boston College, Wayne decided he wanted to attend law school.
“Law school was always an idea in my head,” he said. “I felt it was the best route for me to take to accomplish my goal of working to end homelessness in America. The skillset to deal with the system is something only someone with a law degree could understand.”
Wayne has received support as news of his mission spread, most remarkably from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
If you are interested in watching Wayne’s journey, the Alliance has posted daily documentation of his 530-mile walk on their YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4lMN8lqLL0.