Claude “The Mowerman” Harvey has lost count of the number of towns he’s pushed his lawnmower around over the past 11 years on a relentless campaign to raise funds and awareness for Bravehearts.
But he’ll always remember Ballarat as the first place he’s had to buy a pair of long pants.
Caught in the weekend’s cold snap, Mr Harvey was forced to swap his trusty shorts for something warmer.
For five months every year for the past 11, the Gold Coast grandfather has pushed his decorated lawnmower through towns across Australia, and in the total raised $1,040,000 for Bravehearts, which is dedicated to the prevention of child sexual assault and offers counselling and support to children and families.
Mr Harvey’s journey to date has seen him walk his way through 83 pairs of his trademark sandals as well as push his faithful mower more than 24,000kms.
“It took me 10 years to reach my million dollar fundraising goal,” he said.
“People are supportive and always keen stop for chat, donate some money and take a few pictures with me and my famous lawnmower so I reckon I can reach my second million in half that time.”
On his current trek he’s pushing his lawnmower through towns from Geelong to Mildura.
“I do it because of two little girls close to my heart who at age three and four were sexually abused,” Mr Harvey said.
”I had a lawn mowing and landscaping business on the Gold Coast, and I thought if I just walk myself no one will take notice of me, but if I push this lawn mower the whole world will take notice of me. No one will ever forget the lawn mower.”
Mr Harvey usually times his walks for warm weather, but his current trip was postponed when his wife fell ill earlier this year.
Ballarat is a particularly poignant stop for Mr Harvey, who was keen to check out the Loud Fence outside St Patrick’s Cathedral.
“I’m very proud to be in Ballarat to support the victims of sexual abuse in this area,” he said.
Raising money isn’t the most important goal of Mr Harvey’s trek – he wants to raise awareness.
“If I can change the life of just one child that is worth more than a million dollars to me,” he said.
“Claude’s efforts demonstrate how the determination of one person can make a positive impact in the lives of so many,” said Bravehearts chief executive Wilma James.
“Wherever he goes people take notice and it’s not every day you see a grandfather pushing a lawnmower through the main street of town. We are forever grateful for his remarkable contribution and fundraising efforts.”