Man traveling the U.S. mowing veterans' lawns stops in Canton, gets a surprise from Ford

Rodney Smith Jr. previously mowed 50 lawns in 50 states

Man traveling the U.S. mowing veterans' lawns gets a surprise from Ford.

CANTON, Mich. – Rodney Smith Jr., from Huntsville, Alabama, has logged a lot of miles on his car and on his lawn mower and has mowed over 2,000 lawns.

He’s not a professional and it’s not a business for him. For him, it’s a calling.

“I realize my true purpose in life is to help people,” he said.

Smith has crossed the country eight times previously, mowing 50 lawns in 50 states. Each time, he picks a deserving group of people. This year, he’s helping Gold Star families, Purple Heart recipients, POWs and veterans.

I believe we should honor our veterans while they’re here,” Smith said. “They have sacrificed so much for our country. It’s only right to give back while we can. This is my way of giving back, by mowing free lawns. I’m honored to be here today to mow for another veteran.”

That brought Smith to Canton Tuesday to Jim and Gale Owens' house.

“We both served during Vietnam,” Gale Owens said. “I was in the Air Force and [Jim] was in the Army.”

There was a camera crew on site today. Smith thought it was to document his nationwide effort, but it was really to document a surprise.

Ford Motor Company heard about Smith’s project and about his loyalty to his Ford Edge. It’s a car that carries all of his equipment and his suitcases everywhere he goes. There are 330,000 miles on the car.

The Owens were in on the secret.

“It’s a nice way to thank him for what he’s doing,” Gale Owens said. “He’s taking his personal time to do this.”

Once Smith finished his work and went to thank the Owens for their service, Ford thanked Smith in a big way. They surprised him with a brand new Ford Edge.

For more information or to donate to Smith’s cause, visit Click on “More info” and then “Service and Sacrifice.”

About the Authors:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.