June 27, 2019
Who would have thought that one man pushing a lawn mower could raise almost $1.5 million for charity?
That’s the total collected so far by Gold Coast resident Claude Harvey, 73, who started pushing a lawn mower around streets in 2000, accepting donations as he went.
For the first few years, Claude was collecting money for the Gold Coast Project For Homeless Youth.
But then, three things changed his life.
Claude explains: “In 2006, two little girls very close to my heart, just three and four, were playing in their own backyard. A 16-year-old boy climbed over the fence and sexually abused them both.”
He was horrified, and equally upset the teenager was not punished for his crime.
The second thing occurred one night as he was watching “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” on TV.
A contestant won $60,000 and announced he would give $30,000 to Bravehearts, a child protection organisation which organises education activities as well as specialist counselling,
The gesture and the work of Bravehearts inspired Claude and he decided to do a lawn mower walk from Tweed Heads to Hope Island to raise money for the organisation.
On the return trip he raised funds for his original charity.
The third thing converted him solely to helping Bravehearts.
Claude was present when the organisation delivered a program at a local school.
“It made a big impression with me. I went into Bravehearts the next day and told them I was going to push a lawnmower to Sydney in two months time for them,” he said.
“And I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Claude has walked an estimated 23,000km around Australia over the past 19 years.
He spends five months a year on his task and has visited every State in Australia.
His longest walk took him all the way from the Gold Coast to Cairns.
Over the years, he’s become a bit of a media superstar – he’s been on Sunrise five times! – and even met the Prime Minister.
Earlier this year, Claude was awarded an Order of Australia Medal “for service to the community through charitable initiatives”.
Claude began his latest walk earlier this month and is planning to travel from Toowoomba to Mackay.
He’s already visited Blackbutt and Yarraman, and is staying two days in Nanango, courtesy of some free accommodation offered by the Star Motel.
Then it’s off to Kingaroy (June 29), Gayndah (July 2) and Mundubbera (July 4).
Why a lawn mower? “To get people’s attention. I wanted the whole world to take notice.”
And the big secret? The lawn mower doesn’t work: “No petrol tank!”
Nanango RSL Club is hosting a fundraiser for Claude on Thursday night from 6:45pm.
He will share some of his stories from the road, and there’ll also be a multi-draw raffle.
Entry is free.
UPDATE: Claude raised $2500 while in Nanango.