What lengths would someone go to, to pay their respects to military veterans? There are often inspirational and heartwarming stories of this on the internet, and sometimes, you’ll find one that will make you reconsider your life.
Rodney Smith Jr. of Huntsville, Alabama, wanted to thank veterans for their service to this country and traveled across the country mowing their lawns for free.
How It All Started
This hero without a cape says he got the inspiration for the project almost five years ago when he was pursuing his bachelor’s degree and searching for purpose in his life. “I remember asking God to use me as his vessel,” he said.
In 2015, he said he was driving home in Huntsville when he saw an elderly man trying to mow his lawn.
“It looked like he was struggling, so I pulled over and helped him,” he said. “That’s when I got my goal to mow lawns for free for the elderly, single moms, and veterans.” He said he immediately made this his mission, and when he realized there were a lot more lawns to mow.
He recruited young people in his community to get involved.
“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.”
He started the “50 Lawn Challenge,” encouraging young people in their communities to go out there and help those who might struggle with their yard work on their own by mowing 50 lawns. A few months later, they went viral on the internet.
Struggling to Adapt
Veterans have a difficult time to adapt once they return home. After their military service, they struggle to adapt to ‘civilian life.’ Statistics show that around twenty thousand wounded or ill veterans fail to find jobs.
While awareness has increased in recent years of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for veterans, many psychologists say it’s not enough. We still forget the horrible events that veterans witnessed while serving overseas.
They are suffering from a psychological trauma we can’t even imagine. They need assistance to settle back into society, and it’s people like Smith, also a military veteran, who are helping them, no matter the cost.
Visiting All 50 States
Smith has traveled to all 50 states to promote his work in 2017 and 2018, but this is the first time he’s doing it to raise awareness for veterans. “I thought I would travel to all 50 states to make people more aware of the foundation,” he said.
While he drove his SUV through all 48 states in the U.S. mainland, he says Delta Airlines helped him reach his last two states, Alaska and Hawaii, after he tweeted at them.
Smith said he gets support for his trip and his organization from people all over the country. “They give me rooms to stay, they purchase the hotel room,” he said. “Sometimes they fill up my tank of gas.”
Smith estimates that since 2015 he’s mowed at least 2,500 lawns, and said he’s finally found his purpose: “My true purpose in life is helping people.”