LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Travis Durham was only 12 years old when his world changed forever.
After losing his father, his best friend, the Louisville native was in constant search of something to get him past his tragedy. Two years later, when he asked his mother for a few extra bucks, he found an unusual calling.
Instead of just giving him money, Durham's mother asked him to do what plenty of parents ask of their kids: mow the lawn.
"I [went] and cut that one and I ended up doing more than I was supposed to...basically like the whole neighborhood's yards," Durham said.
That simple job turned into so much more than just yard work, it gave Durham a purpose he was desperately seeking.
"When I lost my daddy, it was like I lost everything, so when I cut grass it was therapeutic," Durham said. "It gave me motivation to do better."
When his mother realized how much he not only liked mowing but affected his community, she said she knew this was a passion worth following.
"You pray for your kids, you hope, you wish, it's like you want the best for your kids, but certain circumstances happen to them that are out of your control," Barbara Wilson, his mother, said. "So when I saw that it was therapeutic for him to cut grass, [I said] oh we got our niche."
And from those therapeutic mowing sessions, Unkuhrupted, a non-profit that provides lawn care services, was born. The group mows lawns for the disabled and elderly for free, while also providing other services to the community.
"That right there was like a sign from his angel, it was like a sign from his dad," Wilson said. "Keep pushing, this is exactly what your path is meant to be."
The idea for his non-profit, Durham said, was to not only work through his own personal issues, but to provide a service to a community in need. Growing up in west Louisville, Durham said he wanted to turn the negativity in and around his community into positivity.
"That's what his heart felt was needed in the community, that's what he wanted to go do and that's what he doing and he [asks] for nothing in return," one Unkuhrupted team member said.
Wilson said parents in their community often worry for their children, hoping they can stay safe and out of trouble. With Unkuhrupted, her son and a slew of other community members not only stay safe, but make their community more beautiful with every lawn mowed.
"He doesn't have any idea, he doesn't have a clue, on the impact he's made within our community," Wilson said.
After years of mowing, landscaping, weed eating and so much more, the Unkuhrupted team got a call from State Farm -- giving Durham and friends the tools they needed to go above and beyond for their city.
"Usually when we go out and cut yards, if it's an abandon lot or an abandon property we'll go ahead and cut it anyway just because it would be an eye sore for the homeowner," Wilson said. "So Travis' idea was why don't we do something with these lots and buildings that are just laying around?"
Durham said he is working on a proposal for the city, envisioning a community center to be safe, basketball courts to stay out of trouble, a home away from home off the streets.
"I want to take [them over so they] don't keep them abandon and get them knocked over," Durham said. "I want to build them for the community so they can do there to get out of trouble."
The area, Wilson said, would be available to all kids who work with Unkuhrupted in keeping the community clean.
"My thought was yeah...we could make [these abandoned lots] into a community center, game rooms, little short stops," Wilson said, "but make these kids work for it."
The goal, they said, is to teach kids in the community that they can do so much more than survive — they can thrive.
"These young kids you know they out here feeling like they fighting to survive and we trying to get them to a point where they don't have to feel like they surviving but they feel like they living," another team member said.
As Durham continues works on his proposal, the Unkuhrupted team continues to help those in the community, mowing lawns and landscaping not only their grounds, but the perception of those around them.
"That's all my daddy ever wanted for me and for him to not be here and I'm still doing it I know he's proud," Durham said.
For more on Unkuhrupted and its services, visit its website.