Have you been to all 50 states before? What about five times?
Rodney Smith Jr. is finishing his fifth “tour” of the United States helping people in need, such as the disabled or single mothers, by mowing their lawn for free. This round he focused on military veterans.
Smith, 29, spoke to CNN while completing his third tour last summer with his friend, Yuri WIlliams, who dresses up as Spiderman visiting children’s hospitals and mowing lawns.
“This is what I believe my purpose is in life,” he said.
Smith, a Bermuda native who now lives in Huntsville, Alabama, started Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a foundation that provides free lawn care to those who need help and seeks to inspire young men and women to make a difference.
Smith said the foundation runs 100% by word of mouth on social media. He announces where he is going to be by taking a selfie with a state sign.
Hello AZ, just passing thru . Here is the route I’m taking thru your state .If you know of a breast cancer Survivor or current warriors that would like to sign my pink mower & mow a strip with me let me know . Or if you want me stop by and say Hi to you . Text : 256-508-9440 pic.twitter.com/wLoz7Uggug
— Rodney Smith Jr (@iamrodneysmith) July 11, 2019
After that, requests and nominations flood in. He also posts when his work has been complete:
I just had the honor of mowing a lawn for Mr. Davis who is a WWII veteran . Such an honor to meet him & Mow his lawn . Thank you for your service . Making a difference one lawn at a time pic.twitter.com/rbhgOQIB5j
— Rodney Smith Jr (@iamrodneysmith) July 23, 2019
He said people sponsor his hotel rooms and donate money to the organization to cover travel expenses.
“Without social media this wouldn’t be possible,” Smith said.
This current tour started May 5. It was supposed to be a seven-continent tour, but Smith said he got a different idea to help veterans instead.
“We need to help our veterans … we need to do more. They have sacrificed their lives so the least we can do is help them when they need it.”
Smith said some of his favorite conversations have been with World War II veterans, adding that it is amazing to hear what they went through.
Before his last leg to Alaska and Hawaii, Smith tweeted to Delta Airlines that he had two states left on his tour and they reached out to sponsor his whole trip.
“They put me in first class and everything to get me here and back home,” he said.
He still continues to mow lawns for others in need, as shown by this recent post in which he moved the lawn of an older woman who was afraid she would be fined for the state of her lawn:
I Recently got a call from an elderly hat that contacted me about her lawn. She was really afraid that the city was going to come fine her because her grass was over grown. I told her don’t worry, I will be by . From now on she doesn’t have to Worry. RMLCS has her covered pic.twitter.com/OulMvGg5Kh
— Rodney Smith Jr (@iamrodneysmith) July 22, 2019
Smith’s passion also extends to children through a program he calls the 50-lawn challenge.
Kids accept the challenge to mow 50 lawns in their neighborhood. In return Smith’s foundation sends them a T-shirt, shades and ear protection for the job. They can work their way up to receiving a mower and weed trimmer for free.
On the Raising Men Lawn Care Service website, there’s a current list of all the kids who are participating, from six countries and almost all 50 states:
Here’s an announcement of a child who has accepted the challenge, as posted to Rodney Smith Jr.’s Twitter feed. He posts these frequently:
Family,Please help me welcome
Wyatt(10)from Aitchison,KS to the family . He has stepped up and accepted the 50 Yard Challenge. Thank you for wanting to make a difference in your community
— Rodney Smith Jr (@iamrodneysmith) July 26, 2019
“[The work] is never done. When God gives you an idea you just do it,” Smith said.
Will his acts of kindness never stop?
Meet Mr.Coxs. I spotted him mowing his lawn & went over to see if he needed help, he said No and that he enjoys mowing it. He mentioned he needed a new mower, so after talking we said our goodbyes and I came back & surprised him with a brand new one . He was very surprised pic.twitter.com/UmBiKRNz7A
— Rodney Smith Jr (@iamrodneysmith) July 15, 2019
Smith said he’ll do the seven-continent tour in the future.
When asked how lawns could be mowed in Antarctica, Smith said, “We also snow shovel!”
Written by Lauren M. Johnson for CNN.
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