One month ago, Rodney Smith Jr. set out on a journey to mow laws for people in need in every state. He’s already halfway done.

“It’s been a pretty cool journey,” Smith said on Wednesday, as he mowed a lawn in La Vergne, helping a single mom who was under the weather. "Kids are joining us every day, and it’s like a seed being planted and watching it grow.”

Smith, a graduate student at Alabama A&M University, is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a nonprofit intended to set a positive example for children by mowing lawns for the elderly, veterans, single moms and people with disabilities. He drew attention to the nonprofit last year by touring the country, mowing laws in every state, and now he’s doing it again and encouraging kids to help.

Smith started mowing in Tennessee on Wednesday, starting in La Vergne and then going to Murfreesboro to mow for a veteran. After that, Smith was headed to Madison to mow for another single mom, then to Mount Juliet to help an elderly man who recently lost his wife. On Friday, Smith is off to Jackson, Mississippi, the next stop on his 50-state journey.

But the nation has a lot of lawns to mow, so Smith has enlisted some help. In addition to Smith’s nationwide tour, Raising Men Lawn Care Service has also launched a “50 Yard Challenge” that encourages children to mow 50 yards for people in need. In La Vergne, Smith was joined by one of the participants from Tennessee – 9-year-old Ryan Youngquist, of Clarksville.

“I just realized that I am able and they are not,” Youngquist said during a water break. “I can help when they struggle.”

Youngquist said he began the 50-yard challenge after his grandfather, who normally mows his own lawn, was injured in a fall earlier this year. Youngquist has mowed one more lawn since then.

“Forty-eight left,” he said. “That ain’t too bad.”

Brett Kelman is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-259-8287 or at brett.kelman@tennessean.com. Follow him on Twitter at @brettkelman.