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Cherry Pie & Grass Clippings

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LaRae Horgan was on her way back from mowing lawns at the ambulance shelter when she noticed Ann’s car wasn’t in her driveway. She pulled over and surveyed the tall green grass, poking out from Ann’s lawn. Quickly, she pulled out her mower and made swift tracks across the lawn, spewing grass clippings and leaving a short, well-manicured finish. She left, and Ann never knew.

LaRae knew Ann, who is 55, had recently moved to Walhalla from Denver, Colorado to be closer to family. She had met her a few times, and knew she struggled with a handful of health issues; both knees replaced, a replaced hip, and low energy levels.

“She can move around but mowing would be a big challenge,” LaRae said.

LaRae had noticed that since moving in, Ann had been paying people to mow her lawn. She already spent time volunteering to mow lawns. It seemed natural for her to help, she said.

So that day on her drive back, she started her secret mowing mission. From then on when she saw Ann wasn’t home, she’d come over and mow her lawn.

“I thought, it’s a half a block away. I’ll just keep doing it,” LaRae said.

LaRae, in very Midwestern fashion, is humble in acknowledging this random act of kindness. It’s nothing, she said. She enjoys mowing, she said.

But LaRae is also no ordinary woman. This is a woman that, while volunteering at the ambulance shelter, responded to a call by following the ambulance on her lawn mower. This is a woman who at Choice Financial, where she works now, makes an impression on the customers she interacts with every day.

This is why her coworker, Sharon Soeby, sought to recognize LaRae with a Rise Up story. The two were talking about mowing lawns when LaRae mentioned her secret mowing mission in passing, as if it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Because for her, it’s not. Going out of her way to mow Ann’s lawn “is just who [LaRae] is,” Sharon said.

“That’s the kind of people we get at the bank here,” she said. “Good people. Caring people.”

Not long after that conversation, LaRae was caught. She was in mid-mow when Ann came out of the house, completely surprised.

“What are you doing?” she asked LaRae.

“I’m mowing your lawn!” LaRae said, matter-of-factly.

LaRae confessed that she had been helping out while Ann was away. Ann, laughing, said she had thought the landlord had started doing it.

“She was excited,” LaRae recounts. “She gave me a hug. Then she asked, ‘What do I owe you?’”

LaRae, remembering Ann was an excellent baker, requested a pie. Ann baked up a fresh cherry pie.

“It was delicious,” said LaRae. “I ate the whole thing.”