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11-year-olds mowed 50 lawns for free so 'The Lawnmower Man' gave them new gear to start a business

"These are good, hard-working kids that deserve some gratitude."

rodney smith jr., 50 yard challenge, giving back

Rodney Smith Jr. mowing a lawn in West Covina, California

Rodney Smith Jr., of Huntsville, Alabama, was recently profiled by KMBC for his generous donation to two 11-year-olds who fulfilled his 50 Yard Challenge in Gadsden, Alabama. Ja’Torrian Taylor and Tevin Rice, founders of TJ & JT Mowing Service, completed Smith’s challenge to mow 50 yards for the elderly, veterans, and people unable to care for their lawns for free.

"I’m heading down to Gadsden right now. These are good, hard-working kids that deserve some gratitude," Smith, known as "The Lawnmower Man," told KMBC. Smith had been told that Taylor and Rice were sharing an old lawnmower that a neighbor had donated to them.

When he arrived, he gave both teens a mower, a blower and a trimmer for their hard work, hoping they’ll use their new equipment to expand their business. "Giving these boys lawn equipment is teaching them discipline," Smith said. "If they tell someone they are going to mow a lawn, they need to mow the lawn."

"Remember, this is not the end; it’s just the beginning," Smith added. "This could be the beginning of a successful lawn service."

Smith’s commitment to taking care of people’s lawns started in 2015, and the following year he went viral for helping a 93-year-old woman who could no longer mow hers. The photo of Smith and the woman received over 1 million likes.

Five years ago, Upworthy profiled Smith for setting a bold goal of mowing lawns for free in all 50 states. His goal was to promote his initiative that "provides free lawn care to our elders, those who are disabled, single mothers, and our veterans, who do not have the time, resources, and/or money to manicure their yards."

As part of this goal, he created the 50 Yard Challenge, which has been a smashing success.

As of May 2023, 4,588 pre-teens and teens are participating in this challenge across the United States. If everyone completes the challenge, that will bring the total number of lawns mowed for free by Smith’s Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service to 229,400.

Kids and teens can take part in the challenge by sending them a photo holding up a sign that says, “I accept the 50 Yard Challenge,” and in return, they’ll receive a white Raising Men/Women shirt along with shades and ear protection to get started. For every 10 lawns cut, they will get a new color shirt.

• 10 lawns earn an orange shirt

• 20 lawns earn a green shirt

• 30 lawns earn a blue shirt

• 40 lawns earn a red shirt

• 50 lawns earn a black shirt

After completing the challenge, the child or teen will receive a mower, a blower, and a trimmer, just like Ja’Torrian Taylor and Tevin Rice from Alabama.

Smith’s story is an incredible example of how one good deed from a kind-hearted person can lead to an outpouring of kindness across the country. It also teaches young people the values of giving back and self-discipline as well as the entrepreneurial spirit.

Learn more about Smith’s nonprofit and donate at Weareraisingmen.com.


This article originally appeared on 6.23.23

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