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Man on lawn-mowing mission to help others, teach youth

Man crossing the country to help the elderly and create teaching moments for kids and teens.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Like many children growing up, mowing the lawn - especially on a hot and humid day like Sunday in Louisville, was a chore for Rodney Smith.

"Even when I was younger, I did not like to mow lawns," Smith said. "But God took something I didn't like and turned it into something I now love to do, so it's kind of funny how things work."

Now, Smith has turned what used to be a hassle into a passion. Smith is traveling around the United States with his lawnmower as part of a campaign of compassion.

"I'm on a journey called '50 States, 50 Lawns,' mowing a lawn in each state for someone who's elderly, disabled, a single parent mother or veteran," he said. "Louisville, Ky., makes my fourth state, so I've got a few more to go."

Smith, who hails from Bermuda but lives in Huntsville, Ala., said he was studying to be a computer scientist when a chance encounter with an elderly man mowing his lawn changed everything.

"It was on a hot, sunny August day and he was struggling, so I pulled up and helped him out and he really appreciated it," he said. "And I realized that this is something that so many people deal with."

It was that encounter that led Smith to create the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, which helps those in need by lending a helping hand and cutting their lawns free of charge. He made a stop in Louisville Sunday at a home of a woman who asked for some assistance.

"I was told that the homeowner, she recently lost her husband, so she's grieving, so I came to release some stress off her back by mowing her lawn," Smith said.

"She was very thankful and even offered some cold drinks when we were done," George Cunningham, a Louisville man who introduced Smith to the woman, said.

But Smith isn't just using the lawnmower to cut grass. He is also using it as a teaching tool. Raising Men Lawn Care Service encourages kids and teens to pick up their own lawnmowers to help their neighbors in need, setting a goal for each kid of 50 lawns.

"Once they reach 50, we fly to them and we do lawns with them and we also surprise them with a brand new lawnmower," he said.

"We've been saying for years and even decades now, get the kids off the streets and get them doing something," Cunningham said. "I think this is a huge thing, especially interacting with some of their neighbors."

"They tell us, 'If it weren't for you guys, I'd be outside getting in trouble, but now I have something positive to do with my life,'" Smith said. "They're making a difference one lawn at a time."

According to Smith, 12 boys have completed the 50-yard challenge.

There are more than 100 kids involved in the Raising Men Lawn Care Service in the United States and there are also participants in Canada, Bermuda and England.

To get involved, visit the Raising Men Lawn Care Service website here.

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