Ryan Tripp, the 14-year-old Parowan teenager who is nicknamed "Lawn Mower Boy," returned to Utah Saturday after setting his second world record on a lawn mower.
He mowed the lawns of all 50 state Capitols, plus the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., this summer in just 75 days to set a record to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records. He also logged some 19,000 miles traveling around the country.However, Tripp seems more proud of the impact he tried to make in raising awareness of the urgent need for organ and tissue donation than of any record setting.
"Our main goal was to make a difference," Tripp said, after arriving at the Salt Lake City International Airport Executive Terminal.
He admits he loves to break records -- he set a world record in September of 1997 while riding a lawn mower some 3,366 miles across the country. That trip raised money for a girl who needed a liver transplant.
"I've learned a lot more about organ donations," he said, explaining that the highlight of his whirlwind excursion was meeting people along the way.
With some 65,000 people nationally waiting for organ donations -- many to save their lives -- he said he hopes his trip becomes a catalyst for people to register to become organ donors.
"It's been very rewarding to see Ryan do something good for others," his mother, Diane, said. "He has a big heart. I knew he could make a difference."
His father, Todd, is also proud of his son and is joking that maybe the family should get some grass placed on the moon, so they can mow up there too.
Seriously, the younger Tripp said he and his father are considering some sort of lawn mowing adventure across the world's seven different continents in the future.
Tripp gave up all the usual fun summer things teenagers do, having left Salt Lake on June 2 after mowing the Capitol lawn in Salt Lake City.
"It was a rigid schedule, an intense itinerary," his mother said, explaining it was very hard for her son to stay away from baseball this summer.
"It was kind of hard sometimes," the teenage Tripp said.
But worth it, the Tripps said.
"Thirteen people a day (in the U.S.) die because they can't get organ transplants," Diane Tripp said.
Hawaii was Ryan Tripp's last stop. He said he was actually able to have some fun there, getting in some parasailing.
"Hawaii was everyone's favorite state," he said.
Tripp met many of the governors along the way, but one special highlight for him was meeting former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith.
Basketball is one of Tripp's loves, and he also hopes to attend that university some day.
Tripp was greeted at the airport by several dozen friends and family, plus with music from the Ogden Concert Band. One banner said: "Ryan, you mowed us over!"
He said he didn't actually have to mow all of the lawn at the state Capitols. Usually, he said, a 1,000-square-foot section was designated. His crusade earned national media attention, and he was also grand marshal at the Magic Kingdom Parade at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Now Tripp's simply looking forward to going home and getting to sleep in his own bed and just do the things normal teenagers do.