Government Shutdown Lawnmower Man Gets Reward: Cash and a Chainsaw
Remember the guy who pushed a lawnmower around the National Mall during the 16-day government shutdown?
The volunteer mower, Chris Cox, was back in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, but this time, he wasn't cutting the grass. Instead, he was being honored for his efforts by two organizations, one of which presented him with an enormous chainsaw.
Cox found fame after tourists spotted him doing maintenance work around the national monuments during October's two-weeks-plus shutdown. He'd "stepped up" to keep them well-groomed for visiting veterans.
"That's the big daddy there, guys," Cox said at an informal ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial as a representative from STIHL, the nation's largest chainsaw manufacturer, presented him with the MS660 magnum, valued at over $1,000 and described by the company as "the chainsaw of choice for so many professionals."
Cox also received over $1,900 from Crowd It Forward, a nonprofit organization that "rewards those who deserve recognition through random acts of crowdfunding," according to its website.
Crowd It Forward founder Kendall Almerico said the campaign simply aimed to "do something good for the person who's doing something great." Almerico said he hoped the money would cover the cost of Cox's missed work days, damaged equipment and parking tickets incurred while caring for the National Mall.
"I had to twist his arm because he did not want to do this for money," Almerico said at the event.
Cox, a woodcutting artist from Mt. Pleasant, S.C., who famously refused to accept tips for his service during the shutdown, insisted he would use the cash - and the STIHL chainsaw - to continue to serve disabled veterans.
"I'm not going to go buy new rims for my truck or a flat screen, O.K.? I'm going to continue to work on behalf of our veterans," he said. "These guys deserve our respect year round."
He also hopes to create a nonprofit organization to help disabled veterans complete everyday tasks, from unclogging garbage disposals to cutting grass and trimming trees.
"I'll be looking for an attorney to help me with that, if you know any good attorneys," he hinted.
Building on Cox's promise, Crowd It Forward announced the launch of The Least We Can Do Is Buy You Lunch, an initiative that will pay local food truck owners to deliver lunches to homeless veterans in Washington, D.C. They'll make their first delivery on Dec. 7 - Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
Cox urged onlookers to join his public service movement, dubbed the "memorial militia," which has swelled to 1,800 members since he was first spotted mowing the lawn.
"If something needs to be done, go out and do it. Make it happen the American way: Be a trendsetter, be a trailblazer," Cox said in an interview with ABC News. "At the end of the day, anybody can be the 'lawnmower man,' not just Chris Cox."