SAMARA MCRAE AND STAFF WRITERS
Seventy-five-year-old Robina resident Claude ‘The Mowerman’ Harvey will be pushing his famed lawn mower from Coolangatta to Hope Island and back this week to help raise money for Bravehearts’ White Balloon Day.
White Balloon Day, which takes place today, is an annual day to raise funds and awareness for the prevention of child sexual assault and exploitation.
Mr Harvey, who has already made many such journeys with his lawn mower to raise money for the child protection organisation, kicks off an epic 10-day trek today that starts in Coolangatta and travels north to Hope Island before turning around and travelling back to Coolangatta on September 20.
The inspirational septuagenarian plans to stop in local shopping centres during his journey to talk with locals and hopefully inspire donations from those with a few dollars to spare.
Mr Harvey has travelled thousands of kilometres with his lawn mower over the past 10 years, taking it on treks through Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia, and raising a staggering $1.3 million to help Bravehearts protect Australian kids.
But his ultimate goal is to raise $2 million for the child protection charity.
“For the first six years I’ve walked from Tweed Heads to Hope Island [and] I’ve raised $1.3 million for Bravehearts, $1.6 million for Gold Coast project for homeless youth, and [funding] for two boys and two girls to get flown over to America for treatment they couldn’t get in Australia,” Mr Harvey said.
“It’s taken 10 years to raise over $1 million; the next million I want to raise in half the time,” he said.
“If I can save just one child from this crime that harms one in five Australian children, I will have achieved what I’ve set out to do,” he said.
Bravehearts funding manager Kayleen Johnston said not only had Mr Harvey raised an incredible amount of money for the organisation, but he was also raising awareness about an important cause.
“He has had [numerous] conversations with people on his walks, some are survivors [of sexual harm] and they respect Claude for what he’s doing,” Ms Johnston said.
“Sometimes all someone needs is to know there is somebody who believes them and their voice is being heard,” she said.
Mr Harvey said his inspiration to dedicate his time to the charity came about when two family friends revealed they had been sexually assaulted and had been too frightened to speak out about it.
“From that day, I vowed to do everything possible to make a difference in the lives of child sexual assault survivors – and that is exactly what I have done,” he said.
To find out more about Bravehearts or to make a donation, visit their website.