Casey DeZwarte plans to give donations he received to the Montezuma American Legion Building Fund
Casey DeZwarte, 13, of rural Montezuma expresses excitement and relief after completing the last of 50 yards he mowed for free from June through September. Casey’s mom, Rachel, heard about a 50 yard mowing challenge from Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service, a nationwide non-profit based in Huntsville, Ala. The organization has been challenging youth ages 7 to 17 since 2016 to mow 50 yards for the elderly, disabled, single parents, veterans and anyone in need of help in their town, all for free. Casey missed the signup deadline, but decided to take the challenge anyway. In addition to the challenge, Casey also mowed a half dozen or so lawns in the Montezuma area.
Casey DeZwarte may have missed the signup deadline, but that didn’t stop the 13-year-old rural Montezuma boy from spending his summer mowing yards and helping others.
In June, Casey’s mother, Rachel, saw a post on Facebook about a 50-yard lawn challenge from Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service, a nationwide non-profit based in Huntsville, Ala. The organization has been challenging youth ages 7 to 17 since 2016 to mow 50 yards for the elderly, disabled, single parents, veterans and anyone in need of help in their town, all for free. Young people who accept the challenge earn T-shirts and once they mow all 50 yards, they receive a new lawn mower, weed eater and blower.
Casey, who was already mowing a half dozen or so yards in the Montezuma area for the last two years, decided, deadline or no deadline, he’d take on the challenge.
Casey changed the focus the challenge, adding in firemen and current military along with veterans and disabled people.
He completed the challenge in September, doing so in addition to mowing his own customer’s yards. Casey mowed yards in Montezuma, Oskaloosa, Lynnville, Sully, Grinnell and Galesburg, where Rachel is from.
“He mowed the yard a couple times for a man in the burn unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics,” his mom said.
Casey said he couldn’t have done the challenge without the help of his mom and grandparents, Steve and Kelley Zuidema. They hauled Casey around to the different yards and are quite proud of his accomplishments.
“They helped out every chance they could,” Rachel said of her parents and Casey’s grandparents.
“We are super proud of this kid,” said his grandmother Kelley.
Even though his services were free, some customers donated money to Casey for gas and supplies. With about $200 left over, Casey said he plans to add some of his own money and help a local cause.
“I am going to donate the money to the Montezuma American Legion Building Fund,” he said.
Casey said it was tough going at times, but his goal in taking on the mowing challenge was to give and help those who needed it.
“My hope is that taking part in this challenge will inspire others to help and be kind to people.”
Casey is a seventh-grader at Montezuma where he plays football, basketball and baseball and participates in FFA.
He is also involved in the 4 Bar H 4-H Club where he shows rabbits and goats. His goal is to show rabbits at shows around the state.
He is the son of Chad and Rachel Thompson.
Casey said he didn’t know if he will do the challenge again.
“I might do a few free yards, but maybe not so many.”