CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Author's note: The video above is on file from September 2021.
Back in September, 13News Now introduced you to a Chesapeake teenager who spent his summer cutting grass for free.
Phoenix Browne, 13, said it started as a simple push and grew from there.
"I’m helping the community, one lawn at a time," he said.
Phoenix spent all last summer cutting grass for the elderly, single parents, the disabled and veterans. He did all the work for free.
"Even when I had to wake up early, still I was doing something that I liked so I don’t even call it a job," he said. "I just call it having fun.”
Phoenix said a challenge started by Rodney Smith Jr. (who runs Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service) inspired him to cut 50 yards for free.
"One of the big, important goals from this organization is to teach kids how to give before they receive," Smith explained. "I think that’s a very important message that kids should learn from a young age.”
On Monday, Phoenix, his parents and Rodney woke up bright and early. They appeared on Good Morning America for a special surprise: Phoenix received a $10,000 check to help his mission.
"$10,000 was a little crazy, I didn't realize I was going to get $10,000," Phoenix said. "Hopefully, I can give it back to my community, put it towards some effort, and support the 500-lawn challenge."
That's his next goal: cut 500 yards in 2022.
Phoenix's parents believe his dedication will push him to accomplish that mission, and possibly more than 500 yards.
Phoenix’s father, Sheldon Browne said the family was incredibly proud of Phoenix.
"Phoenix is obviously the engine that makes it go," he said. "His mother and I are just are the tracks that guide him.”
Browne said it’s important for Phoenix to have the lesson of "giving of self." He said there was no greater lesson than that, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.
“It’s pretty incredible and we are grateful and very humbled by it all,” said his mother, Joycelene Tetteh.
Phoenix told 13News Now he hopes other kids across Hampton Roads would join him in making a difference in the community.
"I need people, I need more equipment, but I mostly need people to come and help me cut some grass," he said. "If that counts as equipment, yes!”
Leaders with Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service said in 2021, more than 3,000 children were taking part in the 50-yard challenge. They hoped to expand the program to 5,000 children in 2022.