By ARDEN BASTIA Ever since he could walk, Liam Trudeau has loved landscaping. Combining community service and his love of lawn care, Liam is taking part in the 50 Yard Challenge, a program from Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service that encourages kids
Ever since he could walk, Liam Trudeau has loved landscaping.
Combining community service and his love of lawn care, Liam is taking part in the 50 Yard Challenge, a program from Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service that encourages kids to cut the lawns neighbors in need for the chance to score new equipment like a lawn mower, leaf blower, and weed whacker.
“I love outdoors, I love landscaping and the tools and figuring out how they work,” Liam shared in an interview on Tuesday as he cut the lawn of a single mom of two kids on Ithica Street.
Despite the hot sun and humid air, Liam happily pushed the lawn mower back and forth, completing the back and front yards in just over an hour. This was his first lawn of the day, and he had another lined up that afternoon.
Liam, who’s 8 years old and going into the third grade at the Henry Barnard School in Providence, said he doesn’t feel like he’s missing his summer by cutting lawns.
While other kids may be at the beach or playing video games, Liam says he’d much prefer to be outside doing work.
“I don’t even have video games,” he said. “99 percent of the time I’m outside or reading.”
Liam’s mother, Jessica, heard about the 50 Yard Challenge through social media. “We saw a post on Facebook by the man who started this, his name is Rodney Smith, and I said to my husband, Liam has been obsessed with lawnmowers and landscaping since he was really little so let’s try this,” she said on Tuesday.
Jessica said that Liam “was the most excited I’ve seen him in awhile,” when he found out he was accepted into the challenge. “It’s remarkable to me, because you’ll tell most kids they have to cut a lawn and they would probably be running in the other direction. Liam literally has been wanting to use the lawn mower, I’m telling you, since toddlerhood.”
She and Liam’s father, Mike, shared stories of Liam following his dad around the yard with his toy lawnmower and blower.
Mike explained that before Liam could talk, “he’d point to the shed and then the lawn, he wanted to help."
“I’m starting to teach him how to use the chainsaw,” said Mike, who explained that Liam’s landscaping skills now include chopping wood.
Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service is an organization based out of Alabama that has inspired service and responsibility in over 2,400 kids in all 50 states and eight countries, including Japan, Bermuda, Australia, Germany, and Sweden. Rodney Smith started the nonprofit after he experienced, firsthand, how cutting someone’s lawn could make his or her day. The organization encourages free lawn care for elderly neighbors, those that are disabled, single mothers, and veterans that don’t have the time, resources, or money to take care of their yards.
1,800 kids have signed up for the latest round of the 50 Yard Challenge, Liam included.
Raising Men & Women Lawn Care challenges kids aged 7 to 17 to cut 50 lawns free for neighbors in need. For every ten lawns cut, participating kids get a new color t-shirt, and protective gear like glasses and ear plugs. Kids who complete the 50 Yard Challenge receive a brand new lawn mower, weed whacker, and leaf blower.
Raking leaves and shoveling snow also counts towards the 50 Yard Challenge. Kids can team up with friends or siblings to complete the challenges, teaching kids about camaraderie and teamwork.
Liam started the challenge in July and has since mowed 14 lawns. His goal is to complete the challenge by the end of the summer, but with school starting soon, he says he “might have to do some raking and shoveling.”
“We’ve had such positive feedback,” said Jessica of the community response to Liam’s landscaping. “People have seen the social media posts and gotten in touch with me all the time, wanting to donate equipment or donate funds. People are so grateful.”
Bobby Martorelli, Jr., owner of Martorelli Property Services, donated a lawnmower to Liam.
Liam was thrilled to share that “sometimes people give me money for gas or snacks. One lady, she’s really nice, she gave me a bag of treats and stuff.”
Once kids complete the 50 Yard Challenge, they can take part in special challenges, like the 100 Yard Challenge, or industry-specific challenges, like cutting lawns for teachers, first responders, members of the military, frontline workers, fallen heroes, or postal workers. For each challenge, kids receive new t-shirts with exclusive designs.
Collecting shirts, for Liam, is like collecting baseball cards.
“I’ve always been proud of him, he’s a great kid, but this has just really shown what kind of work ethic he has and that he’s willing to donate his time to other people,” Jessica said. “I think as parents we always try to instill that in our kids but this has really shown that I feel like we are raising him right.”
Liam has set up a GoFundMe to raise funds for gas and other equipment, eventually saving up for a small trailer. Liam is halfway to his goal of $1,500.
“It’s getting hard to keep lifting the mower into the back of the truck,” said Mike, laughing.
Liam’s goal is to one day start his own landscaping business.
To donate to Liam’s GoFundMe, visit https://gofund.me/1c482247. To learn more about Raising Men & Women Lawn Care, visit www.weareraisingmen.com.