Rodney Smith Jr. of Huntsville, Alabama, wrapped up his nationwide yard work tour in Hawaii on Thursday.
“I remember asking God to use me as his vessel,” the 29-year-old recalled of a time he spent looking toward Heaven for purpose as he pursued his degree. He was driving home to Huntsville when his prayer was answered in an unexpected manner; an elderly man was laboring on his own to mow his lawn.
“It looked like he was struggling, so I pulled over and helped him,” Smith said. “That’s when I got my goal to mow lawns for free for the elderly, single moms and veterans.” But he did not keep the mission to himself, starting the “50 Lawn Challenge” to motivate people to serve the most vulnerable members of the community.
“We have boys and girls taking part in the program,” he said. “We are trying to encourage boys and girls to get out there and make a difference, one lawn at a time.” After its humble beginnings, the project went viral in 2017.
According to Smith, 400 kids nationwide have joined his compassionate crusade. In an effort to raise further awareness, Smith personally traveled to all 50 states to do his part. He drove to the contiguous 48, but Delta Air Lines stepped in to help him with Alaska and Hawaii.
“I’ve come across so many veterans that are struggling to get their lawn mowed,” he said. “If they served for our country, we should step up for them.” In fact, Smith believes the work is “the least we can do” for America’s heroes. “This is the last thing they need to worry about,” he said.
Since 2015, Smith claims to have personally mowed about 2,500 lawns — and he is not yet done. Even though the tour is over, he seems to have found the mission he once sought. “My true purpose in life is helping people,” he said.