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

While other kids their age are spending their summers riding bikes and playing video games, 11-year-olds Ja’Torrian (J.T.) Taylor and Tevin (T.J.) Rice of Gadsden, Alabama, are sowing seeds of good karma instead.

After witnessing an elderly neighbor trying to mow her lawn with one hand while simultaneously holding onto a walker in the other, Ja’Torrian felt compelled to do something.

Without a second thought, he quickly ran over to finish the job. The first seed was planted.

How Two 11-Year-Old Boys Are Spending the Summer Helping Others

Ja’Torrian felt so good about helping his neighbor, that he decided to do it again, this time, teaming up with one of his best friends, Tevin.

With a rickety old, used lawnmower donated by their neighbor, the pre-teens got to work, not only mowing the lawn of the elderly woman but also the lawns of others who struggle in their community as well.

TJ & JT Mowing Service was officially born.

According to WVTM 13, the boys mow three to four yards a week. Eventually, they started charging $10 a lawn to help cover the cost of gas and save for a new lawnmower. But that’s not the only way their hard work paid off.

The boys’ efforts caught the attention of Rodney Smith Jr. aka the “Lawnmower Man.”

The Lawnmower Man: Changing the World, One Lawn at a Time

In 2015, Smith, then a student at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, came across an elderly man struggling to mow his lawn. He pulled over and helped him.

It made such an impact that, that night, he decided to start mowing the lawns of the elderly, disabled, veterans, and single parents for free.

When he topped 100 lawns, he came up with the idea to launch a nonprofit organization called Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service, to teach kids aged 7 -17 “the importance of giving back to their community with a lawnmower.”

In 2017, Smith, who has a Master’s in social work, embarked on a mission to travel to all 50 states, mowing the lawns of those in need for free. Since then, he has mowed over 20,000 lawns, all on his own dime.

Additionally, he started the 50-Yard Challenge to encourage young people to help their community by mowing lawns for people in need.

“I hope it teaches youth that it is good to give back,” said Smith. “And that it teaches them good morals, how to be a good citizen, and that they can make a difference one lawn at a time.”

Kids can earn t-shirts for every 10-yard milestone completed. And eventually, once they’ve finished the challenge, the kids are gifted a brand-new lawnmower, blower, and trimmer.

Kids like Ja’Torrian and Tevin.

The Boys Become Honorary Members of the 50-Yard Challenge

When Smith heard about Ja’Torrian and Tevin’s good deeds, he dropped everything to pay them a visit. “I’m heading down to Gadsden right now,” Smith said. “These are good, hard-working kids that deserve some gratitude.”

Not only did he meet the boys and offer them some tips, but he also made them honorary members of the 50-yard challenge club and surprised each of them with their very own lawnmower, blower, and trimmer.

“Giving these boys lawn equipment is teaching them discipline,” Smith told WVTM 13. “If they tell someone they are going to mow a lawn, they need to mow the lawn.”

He also shared these words of wisdom with the boys, “Remember, this is not the end; it’s just the beginning. This could be the beginning of a successful lawn service.”

“You start here and your potential is enormous,” he added.

The boys were beyond thrilled and plan to put their new equipment to good use.

As of May 2023, there are 4,588 kids participating in the 50-yard challenge across the U.S. as per the Springfield Daily Citizen. If everyone completes the challenge, that will bring the total number of lawns mowed for free since 2015 to a whopping 229,400.

And all it took was one to get started.

If you want more information or know a kid who wants to join the challenge and be a part of making a difference – one lawn at a time – check out Smith’s website here.

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