NOT all superheroes wear capes. Some just push a lawn mower, like Claude Harvey.
The 70-year-old Gold Coast grandfather of six pushes his mower all around Australia to help protect children from sexual abuse.
When he spoke to The Senior, Claude was $13,000 shy of raising $1 million for child-protection charity Bravehearts – a milestone he hopes to reach ahead of White Balloon Day on September 8.
“It feels really great. Once I reach it, I’ll go for the next million,” Claude said.
Most importantly, he is getting the message out and giving a voice to kids.
“It is more about raising the awareness of this horrendous crime in as many communities as I can across Australia,” Claude said.
“If I can change the life of just one child that is worth more than a million dollars to me.”
Claude picked up the mower in 2000 after he learnt two family friends had been sexually assaulted.
At first he raised money for local causes but decided to help Bravehearts when he heard about of its work in 2008.
In his 17 years of mowerthons, Claude has walked more than 24,000km, gone through 83 pairs of sandals and raised $1.3 million in total for charity.
Surprisingly, he’s had no blisters!
“I thought if I walked no one would take any notice of me, but if I pushed a lawn mower the whole world would take notice of me.”
The plan worked. Claude has been on TV from the UK to Cambodia and everywhere in between.
It hasn’t all been easy, though. “I’ve been chased by three bulls, two dogs and one woman,” he said. He’s been punched, threatened and even had someone hold a gun to his head to stop his walks.
“I just ignore it and show people they can’t intimidate me. It’s brave, stupid, but worth it. Somebody’s got to stick up for these children.”
Claude has just finished a fundraising walk from Rockhampton to Townsville.
Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, he’s about to head off again from Tweed Heads to the Gold Coast’s Hope Island and back.
“I think we all have a responsibility to help our children. If people can give just one dollar it would be great,” he said.
And Claude’s calling in life before he retired? He had a lawn maintenance business!
Time to ‘chalk’ about it
BRAVEHEARTS says it is thrilled to have someone like Claude protecting Australian children.
You can also help raise awareness by getting behind the organisation’s White Balloon Day.
Held on September 8 as part of Child Protection Week, the day aims to prevent child sexual assault.
This year’s theme, ChalkItUp, will get the message out through art, encouraging youngsters to create a chalk mural.
“Child sexual assault is a tough topic but we are encouraging the community to ‘chalk’ about it through art and sharing the message of hope and prevention,” said Bravehearts chairwoman Hetty Johnston.
Research shows one in five Australian children will be sexually harmed in some way before their 18th birthday.
In more than 90 per cent of these cases, the offender is someone the child knows and trusts.
- To donate and follow Claude’s journey, www.facebook.com/ClaudeTheMowerMan
- If you or someone you know has been affected by child sexual assault, call Bravehearts on 1800-272-831.