By Lea Terry
Midwest City Beacon
Midwest City resident Cannon Deeter has cut over 30 lawns for free as part of the national 50 Yard Challenge. During that time, he’s met people from all backgrounds, including senior citizens, people with disabilities, military veterans and single parents. He was even named “Mower of the Month” for October. The greatest reward, he said, has been the happiness brought to those he’s helped.
“My favorite part is seeing the smiles on their faces when I’m done,” the 11-year-old homeschooler said.
Originally founded in 2016 in Alabama, the 50 Yard Challenge now has participants in all 50 states. To sign up, children submit a picture of themselves holding a sign that says “I accept the 50 yard challenge.” After this, the program sends them their official T-shirt. With each 10 lawns they mow, they receive a T-shirt in a new color, similar to the belt process in martial arts. When they complete the challenge, founder Rodney Smith visits them to personally deliver their reward: a lawn mower, weed trimmer and leaf blower of their own.
Cannon got involved after his mother Keri saw a Facebook post about it. Cannon designed a flier, which his family distributed. Once word got out, people started sharing his message and at one point he was mowing a lawn almost every night. Some people have also hired Cannon to mow their yards, or have donated supplies such as gloves and leaf bags.
Keri said some of the lawns have been tough, and that Cannon has been asked to mow yards as large as an acre and nearly high enough to receive a citation.
“I mowed one that was higher than my dad, and he’s 6’1″,” Cannon said.
Another challenging aspect has been mowing in the heat, but Cannon said it’s important to keep going.
“I would tell other kids to work hard and keep trying when it gets hard,” he said.
One of Cannon’s first lawns was for a military veteran who was an amputee. He’s also mowed lawns for several senior residents in the community, including one of his favorite clients, Ms. Terri, who prayed over him.
Through the challenge, Cannon has not only learned the basics of lawn care, but also about the importance of reaching out to those in need. He also takes great pride in his work, and is looking forward to completing another 50 yards after he finishes the first challenge. The family is also saving up to buy him a riding mower so he can also mow acreages.
To learn more about the 50 Yard Challenge, visit weareraisingmen.com. To contact Cannon about lawn mowing service, contact his father Duane Deeter at (405) 401-7573. Cannon’s mom Keri said they’re hoping to reach out to more senior citizens. Now that the weather is turning colder and lawn mowing services aren’t as needed, she said Cannon can also help with leaf clean up and snow shoveling, which also count toward the 50 yard requirement.