"When he stepped out of the car, I knew this guy meant business!" Jimmy tells The Boot with a laugh. "He had a military bag on his back that was three times the size of my bag. He was ready to walk. We walked all that day, and we set up camp that night just off the Highway 70. We spent all night out there in the woods."
Lt. Col. Garkey says that the opportunity to join Jimmy on the road was pure fate. "I heard about [project 'Meet Me Halfway'] through a podcast, which is funny because normally I'm several weeks behind," he tells The Boot. "I was almost caught up when I heard about what he was doing. The Friday prior to last week, I heard that podcast which I normally would've heard this week or maybe even later. How these things line up is neat."
After tracking Jimmy down through the official 'Meet Me Halfway' website, he and Jimmy averaged 20-25 miles over the two days they walked. Lt. Col. Garkey says it was an experience he will always carry close to his heart.
"It's amazing how you're pulled in a direction like I was to do this," he says. "When you're out there walking, you have time to reflect how you can make a difference in your community. It was very rewarding. Jimmy inspired me the most, because he's so dedicated. He's an amazing guy. He surprised me with how down to earth he was."
Jimmy and Lt. Col. Garkey shared many stories during their two days together, as well as some lighter times including making the singer do a set of military push-ups prior to walking the morning of their last day. "It's [Lt. Col. Garkey's] last day with me," Jimmy tweeted later that day. "He will be a friend forever."
Lt. Col. Garkey says that he would like to join his new friend back out on his journey before he reaches Phoenix, if possible. "It's hard for this soldier to walk away from a mission," Lt. Col. Garkey tweeted after returning home. "It won't feel right knowing Jimmy returns to the road alone."
Jimmy announced project 'Meet Me Halfway' in December and began walking New Year's Day. He expects to arrive in Phoenix, sometime in March but says, "I'm not in a race [to get there]." The goal of project 'Meet Me Halfway' is to raise awareness to teens who age out of foster homes and prevent them from winding up homeless and on the streets. To make a donation to the cause, visit the campaign's website.