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‘Lawnmower Man’ leaves Clarkson in tears on TV show

  • Star turn: Rodney Smith, centre-right, rubbing shoulders with entertainment giants Kelly Clarkson, Tyler Perry and Ben Platt on daytime talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show (Photograph supplied)
  • All smiles: charity worker Rodney Smith discusses his new youth initiative with Kelly Clarkson on her talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show (Photograph supplied)
  • Cultivating kindness: Rodney Smith, left, with two young volunteers who have taken up the 50 Yard Challenge to mow lawns in their area. (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda’s own lawnmower man rubbed shoulders with superstar Tyler Perry on a chat show — and reduced host Kelly Clarkson to tears with the story of his charity lawnmowing drive.

Rodney Smith appeared on the Kelly Clarkson Show on Monday with Mr Perry and actor Ben Platt — but stole the show with how he has recruited youngsters from around the world to mow lawns for free as part of his 50 Yard Challenge.

Ms Clarkson told Mr Smith: “You’re bringing me to tears.”

The Grammy Award-winning singer surprised Mr Smith with more than 20 children from the Los Angeles area who have pledged to take part in the mowing challenge.

Mr Smith said: “It’s bringing me to tears just to hear their stories.

“When I first started, I was just helping someone in Huntsville, Alabama, and now it’s grown to all of this. I never would have thought.”

Mr Smith, who mowed his way across the United States, was speaking on Monday’s edition of the top-rated NBC show.

Mr Perry, known for writing, directing and starring in the smash hit Madea franchise, told Mr Smith to accept the success that he earns.

He said: “The good that you put out comes back to you.

“As much positivity are you’re putting out, go look for it in your life. I didn’t know how to feel worthy enough to accept it when it came back, so when it comes back to you and into your life, be open to it.”

The episode also highlighted his work and the new challenge for children.

Mr Smith explained that children who wanted to take part posted a message on social media that “I accept the 50 Yard Challenge”.

He added that every youngster who took part would get sunglasses, ear protection and a T-shirt, as well as a different-coloured shirt for every ten lawns that they mow.

Mr Smith said that he would also visit any child who completed the challenge and reward them with a free lawnmower, a weed whacker and a leaf blower.

He said: “In this day and age, a lot of kids are inside playing video games, so I’m trying to encourage them with a lawnmower to get out there and make a difference one lawn at a time.”

Mr Smith added that about 500 children in the United States had signed up for the initiative.

He added that he also received pledges from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany and Bermuda.

Ms Clarkson told him: “I love that you’re, in essence, teaching kids selflessness.

“You don’t get anything out of it except for just knowing that you helped somebody and I think that’s a beautiful thing that we all need to learn, when we’re young especially.”

One youngster who took on the 50 Yard Challenge said that his stepmother had pestered him to take on the challenge.

He added: “At first, I wasn’t going to do it because I needed to make money from this summer mowing because I want to start a lawn service next summer.

“But she brought up the point that I’m sowing seeds into the community that mean more than the money that I’d be earning.”