SPRINGVILLE — Alabama resident Rodney Smith Jr. recently made a trip to Utah to deliver a new lawn mower and leaf blower to five local kids and teens for completing what he has called the 50 Yard Challenge. One of those kids was 12-year-old Boston Housley of Springville.
The 50 Yard Challenge and its accompanying nonprofit organization encourages young men and women across the nation to provide service to members in their communities through yard work. Smith challenges the youth to cut 50 lawns for free for the elderly, disabled, single parents, veterans, and anyone else in need of help in their town. After the kids complete the challenge, Smith personally delivers a lawn mower and leaf blower to the child's home and presents the child with an award.
Boston committed to the challenge in May of 2020 and completed it in October. He said that it was a lot of work, but that he learned a lot and enjoyed the process.
"My mom was the one who found out about the challenge and asked if I wanted to try doing it," Boston said. "I'd only mowed my lawn before, but I thought it would be good to try and do it for other people. It was hard, but it taught me a lot about serving others, and it helped me feel like I was doing something good."
Boston's dad, Rhett Housley, said that it wasn't as hard as he thought it would be to find people in need.
"I started by emailing our church bishop to see if there were individuals in need, and we got several names that way," Housley said. "We were able to go down to St. George, where my mom lives, and Boston mowed some lawns down there. It was really neat to see Boston serve others and see the lives that were touched."
My goal is to teach children while they are young to serve one another, work hard, and give back to their communities.
–Rodney Smith Jr., 50 Yard Challenge founder
Along with witnessing his son's hard work and service, Housley said that Boston got really good at mowing lawns.
"We figured that Boston spent about 29 hours mowing lawns," Housley said. "He has gotten really good at it, and has even mentioned that it is something that he wants to do as a job."
According to Smith, this is an outcome that he is hoping for.
"We are raising men and women," Smith told KSL.com. "My goal is to teach children while they are young to serve one another, work hard, and give back to their communities."
To date, over 1,400 children have taken part in the 50 Yard Challenge since it began in 2016 — 49 from Utah.
The others from our state who completed the challenge in 2020 are 16-year-old Mishay England of Stansbury Park, 15-year-old Truley Carter of American Fork, and 13- and 15-year-old siblings Jace and Mason Sawyer of Riverton.