Larry VanNess update

Rachel Landers, a caregiver for Larry VanNess for many years, said she will deliver an additional 1 million tabs to Ronald McDonald House after Thanksgiving. They include community donations.

ANDERSON — The legacy left behind by Larry VanNess of collecting pop can tabs for Ronald McDonald House has become a community undertaking.

VanNess, known affectionately around Anderson as the “Can Man,” passed away Oct. 24 as a result of medical complications after being struck by a car.

VanNess started collecting tabs in 2003 after talking with a family at Shadyside Park about the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis. It’s steps from Riley Hospital for Children.

He recently surpassed the 26 million mark, and local resident Rachel Landers, a caregiver for VanNess for many years, said that after Thanksgiving she will deliver an additional 1 million tabs.

“We’re going to keep doing it indefinitely,” Landers said of collecting the tabs. “We’re carrying on Larry’s legacy.”

She said community members want to continue to collect the tabs for Ronald McDonald House, and the list of participating businesses where tabs can be dropped off has grown to 44 in recent weeks.

“I told Larry before his accident that we would continue to collect the tabs,” Landers said. “I’m not surprised because so many people supported Larry.

“I’m pleased the whole community wants to keep it going,” she said. “For many people, it’s second nature to collect the tabs. Larry is still with us in spirit.”

Erskine Elementary School has been collecting the tabs for Larry for many years, Landers said of the big box half full in the lobby of the school.

“I expect to do this for a long time.”

One change is that, although VanNess counted each tab by hand, tabs will be weighed in the future.

“The Ronald McDonald House likes to get them by weight,” she said.

At Ronald McDonald, families of sick children being treated at Riley may stay, rest, eat together and get support from staff, volunteers and other families.

Landers said a memorial fund has been established in VanNess’ name with the Madison County Community Foundation.

The fund will be permanently endowed, meaning that the principal from donors will never be spent. The funds will be used to benefit local agencies that provide human services to county residents.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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