LOCAL NEWS

Alabama man mowing lawns in all 50 states

Jun 25, 2018, 7:55 PM | Updated: 9:13 pm

SANDY, Utah – An Alabama man has made it his mission to visit all 50 states — not for sightseeing, but for service.

Rodney Smith Jr. has traveled across the country, giving free lawn care to those who are elderly, single mothers, have disabilities or are veterans. It’s part of his “50 States 50 Lawns,” project. Monday, Utah became the 34th state on his list.

“I do it because I believe it’s my purpose,” he said. “Before this started, I had a one-on-one conversation with God and asked him to use me as his vessel, and he didn’t give me an answer that day, not a week later, not a month later, not even a year later. It came the day I came across an elderly man outside mowing his lawn and he looked like he was struggling so I pulled over and helped him out. That’s the night I decided to start mowing free lawns.”

His journey started on May 1.

“I’m traveling by myself with just me, my lawn mower and my weed eater,” Smith said.

The 28-year-old stopped in Sandy on Monday.

Rochelle Dolim saw on Twitter that Smith was stopping in Utah and humbly asked him for help. She has arthritis in both ankles and recently had surgery on her hand. Dolim said she loves doing yard work, but her body isn’t up to it anymore.

“Rodney is doing a great thing with this and I feel very fortunate that we’re able to benefit,” Dolim said. “I’m so happy, not only for what we received, but for the opportunity to let people know that there are good people like Rodney who are out making a difference in the world.”

Smith has a master’s degree in social work, but he doesn’t just mow lawns because he enjoys it.

“I hated mowing lawns as a kid, but God took something I disliked and turned it into something that I love to do,” said Smith. “He works miracles with some people.”

He hoped his cross-country trek will inspire kids to get out and serve others through a program dubbed the “50-Yard Challenge.” Smith said so far a dozen kids have completed his challenge to mow 50 lawns for service, and hundreds more are currently working on it.

Donations can be made to Smith’s Raising Men Lawn Care Service, an organization that helps young people help the community by offering services such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves and more, free of charge. So far, there eight chapters have organized nationwide. More than 150 kids have joined and they have mowed more than 2,000 lawns.

Smith was able to mow three lawns before he had to start driving to his next destination: Phoenix.

“My last stop, we’re flying to Alaska and Hawaii,” Smith said.

What better way to inspire than to lead by example, state by state.

“One lawn at a time, making a difference,” said Smith.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

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Alabama man mowing lawns in all 50 states