Rodney Smith Jr. has crisscrossed the U.S. eight times, mowing lawns for free in all 50 states. By the time he reached a Detroit suburb last week, he had racked up more than 333,000 miles on his 2012 Ford Edge.
"I believe, like a bird's meant to fly, a car's meant to be driven," he said.
While he was in town, Ford Motor Co. gave Smith a 2020 Edge through its "Proud to Honor" program to help veterans. Smith, who's from Alabama, isn't a veteran, but his Raising Men Lawn Care Service encourages youths to help veterans and older and disabled people who can't easily take care of their yards.
"It's our program, so one interpretation is we could help somebody like you who's helping so many veterans and getting kids involved," Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told Smith when he showed up with the new Edge and a camera crew. "We're proud to make this gesture and we're proud of the work you're doing."
The video Ford made shows Smith — who got the surprise while cutting the grass for a married couple who served in Vietnam — looking incredulous as he sat behind the wheel. "I feel like I'm dreaming."