HUNTSVILLE, Ala — One of Huntsville’s very own heroes is used to serving others. But, Friday he got a gift beyond words. All this as he’s still at risk of being deported. Friday afternoon, a local Ford dealership showed Smith just how much he’s appreciated.
After being denied a green card, and entering into a battle for citizenship, Rodney Smith Jr. is seeing a silver lining on the dark cloud.
Rodney Smith Jr. is known as the man behind the mower. Today, he’s the man behind a brand new car, to help him continue his work that changes lives.
Rodney Smith Jr. tells our reporter, “It makes me feel like people believe in the mission. It’s a big thing for Ford to give someone a car. So that means they believe in the entire project of Raising Men and Raising Women as well.”
Rodney Smith Jr. has made headlines and graced national stages. He’s made nine tours around the country mowing lawns in all 50 states for people in need. His organization, ‘Raising Men Lawn Care Service’, encourages kids to get out and do the same.
Woody Anderson Ford says they’re well aware of Rodney’s contributions. So, they’re gifting him a 2020 Ford Edge to keep touching lives. The announcement was first made in September. Friday, Rodney received the vehicle. We spoke with Bobby White, the General Manager at Woody Anderson Ford. He says, “We just wanted to get involved with what he was doing because it’s just such great work. It’s not just only for one group.”
But, all Smith's hard work is now at risk. Rodney announced his application for an E-1 Visa was denied in October. Since then, people across the country-- and right here at home-- have stepped in to help. Smith says, “It’s been overwhelming. It’s been so much support from everyone. All the congressmen, senators, local officials and just people that support the organization. I’m just grateful for everyone’s support. We’ve got about 500 plus letters and letters are still coming in. There’s a petition going around with about 30,000 signatures. We’re going to submit that as evidence as well.”
Smith says reading the letters he’s received in support of his visa application brought a wave of emotion. He adds, “It just touched me. I was crying a little bit because I didn’t know people felt that way about the organization and myself-- the importance of it all.”
It seems as if Smith never stops giving. Back in 2016, Rodney Smith got a 2012 Ford Edge from Woody Anderson Ford. Now, he’s giving that car a new life. He tells our reporter, “Woody Anderson Ford has offered to fix it up for me. I’m going to fix it up and give it to a family or single parent in need.”
Just a few weeks ago, we checked in with Rodney Smith Jr., and he was in need of an immigration lawyer. He says, he’s found one. Smith adds, “Now, I have an immigration lawyer named Stephen Davis. We’re going for the EB-2 Special Interest Waiver. We believe it’s going to work out. We’re going to file it next week. It’s just a waiting game after that.”
And while he waits, Rodney says, the work doesn’t stop.