Volunteering for a worthy cause can be a wonderful experience. And when you volunteer for 50 days every year, on the road, getting an average of five hours sleep a night, you know it’s much more than just a hobby.
For Smiddy’s road crew king and recent Fundraising Institute of Australia Volunteer of the Year Award winner, Kevin Enchelmaier, it certainly is—and it’s still wonderful.
Since his first Smiddy event in 2007, “Kevvy” has become an institution in Smiddy circles—everybody knows him, everybody loves him and, most importantly, everybody trusts him.
And for a cyclist riding hundreds of kilometres each day across major highways, that’s critical.
Kevvy has been Smiling for Smiddy’s rear support driver for nine years and, in that time, has racked up an incredible 70 events that have taken him to every corner of Australia as well as overseas (Kevvy's pictured at right road crewing in New Zealand in March 2016).
In fact, the only Smiddy event he’s missed in nine years was for his son’s wedding in 2013. Now that’s dedication!
But for Kevvy, it’s really a labour of love.
“It’s the people who bring me back,” he explained. “You meet so many different people and you’re with people who are doing good things.
“I lost my Dad to cancer too, so I also feel like I can add to the awareness Smiddy achieves—talking to people, asking if they’ve been checked at the doctors lately, you almost become an ambassador.
“It’s such an adventure every time. And they just keep adding the events. I’ve done New Zealand twice and we’re doing Uluru this year.
“Plus, I’m a bit like the cyclists—I’m crazy too!”
So what does the rear support driver do?
“My role is there for safety,” he said. “Rider safety and other road users.
“I stop any cars coming from behind us and I’ll tell the lead vehicle at the front of the peloton that there’s a car or truck behind me and help them pass.
“Most road users and truckies are pretty friendly and understanding.”
But Kevvy admits being part of the road crew is not just about driving. He’s a veritable jack-of-all-trades.
Driver. Mechanic. Cook. Handyman. Laundry man. Water boy. Occasional counsellor. And self-confessed stopwatch Nazi.
But these are not Kevvy’s words. That’s because Kevvy isn’t the type of bloke to sing his own praises—he just gets in and does it.
During an event, his days start at 4.30 am and ends at 11.00 pm. He cooks barbeques, repairs tyre punctures, refills water bottles, helps with the laundry—and that’s in between driving hundreds of kilometres.
And like any good parent, Kevvy makes sure his cyclists drink enough water, eat plenty of fruit and get to bed early.
“They eat early, and when they go to bed that’s when I can relax!” he jokes.
And it’s not just Smiling for Smiddy who Kevvy supports with his time.
The 66 year old retiree also gives up six days a month to man the Dayboro Information Centre, as well as two mornings each week helping at his local primary school.
“It’s about looking for something you want to commit to when you’re retired,” he said.
“I never had the opportunity to help my own kids at the school when I was working, so this is a great way to be involved.”
With such dedication to others, it’s really no wonder that Kevvy was recently named the 2016 Fundraising Institute of Australia Volunteer of the Year at a gala dinner in Melbourne.
And it’s also little surprise that he didn’t imagine he’d win.
“Even though I won the Queensland nomination a few months earlier, I still didn’t expect it!” Kevvy said of his honour.
“It was special to be recognised, but from the start, I’ve never had a doubt that my efforts weren’t appreciated. Whenever I go in (to Mater Foundation) it’s ‘Hi Kevvy, how are you?’ and things like that.
“And the riders always thank you. I think they thank me 20 times a day!”
And we’re glad they do. Without volunteers like Kevvy, Smiling for Smiddy rides would not be the same. In fact, they would not even be possible.
If you want to join Kevvy on the road as part of a future Smiddy event, you can register your interest here or call us on 07 3163 8000.
Want to be on the bike rather than in the car? Check out the 2018 events and choose your challenge!