Mowing mission accomplished

Rodney Smith Jr.

One man. One mower. And 50-plus lawns cut in 50 states in less than 40 days.

Rodney Smith Jr., founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service (RMLCS), recently wrapped up his 50 States, 50 Lawns tour, during which he mowed a lawn in every state to raise awareness for his organization that provides free lawn care service to the elderly, disabled, single mothers and veterans.

Briggs & Stratton Corporation, the world’s largest maker of lawnmower engines, made a financial donation and provided equipment to ensure Smith had the resources needed to complete his one-man mission. The company has been a supporter of RMLCS since it started by featuring Smith in its You.Powered. initiative, which celebrates people making positive changes in their community with the help of outdoor power equipment.

For Smith’s Wisconsin stop, he spent two days at Briggs & Stratton’s global headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis. More than 50 employees showed their support of RMLCS by joining Smith to mow 70-plus lawns in the Milwaukee area — in one afternoon.

“We’re so proud of what Rodney’s accomplished not just during the 50 States, 50 Lawns tour but since launching RMLCS,” said Rick Carpenter, vice president corporate marketing at Briggs & Stratton. “The work he’s doing not only gives back to people who need help, he’s created a movement that inspires youths to get outside and give back to their communities.”

Smith deemed the tour a success, as it led to more than a dozen requests to start RMLCS chapters throughout the United States, and inspired 35 youths to accept the 50-yard challenge. For the challenge, youths have to mow 50 lawns for people unable to manage their own lawn care. They’re rewarded with different-colored T-shirts, similar to belts in karate, and get a visit from Smith — and a new lawn mower — if they complete all 50 lawns.

Some stats from Smith’s tour include:

* 15,000 miles driven

* 53 lawns mowed

* 35 youths accepted the 50-yard challenge

* $6,000 raised for RMLCS

During the tour, Smith met hundreds of people who shared their stories and provided him with support, ranging from enjoying meals together to donations. His story was told in dozens of media outlets, ranging from People magazine to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spread the word about RMLCS and our mission to help every person who can’t manage their own lawn care,” Smith said. “I couldn’t have done it without Briggs & Stratton’s contribution. Their support has made a difference in the lives of so many people we helped during this tour.”