ANDERSON, Ind. — An Anderson man, known throughout central Indiana as "The Can Man," was hit by an SUV on Sunday.
Police said just before 8:45 p.m., 75-year-old Larry VanNess was hit by an SUV while crossing Jackson Street at the intersection with 11th Street.
Van Ness was taken to an Anderson hospital for treatment, then was transported to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, according to our partners at the Herald Bulletin. The newspaper said the driver who hit VanNess was making a turn when he struck him, but no charges have been filed at this time.
A post on VanNess' Facebook page said he broke his left hip, his left shoulder blade and two ribs on each side of his body. He also reportedly suffered two small brain bleeds, two cuts to his head and several other abrasions. He had surgery on his hip Monday morning, another post read, adding that the other injuries are expected to heal on their own.
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VanNess is affectionately referred to as "The Can Man" in Anderson, a city where he's certainly a household name.
In 2016, 13News did a story on VanNess. At the time, he was walking 5-10 miles a day, every day, making the same stops along the way.
He made those stops for a reason. At each stop, he picks up pop can tabs that are donated to the Ronald McDonald House. The money from the tabs help cover operating expenses.
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The Can Man's quest started when someone dared him to collect a million tabs — so he did. By 2016, he had done it eleven times.
According to the Herald Bulletin, he has now collected more than 25 million tabs in the past 19 years.
"I'm a tabaholic now, instead of an alcoholic. A tabaholic. I was a drunk. I was homeless since I was 16," VanNess told 13News in 2016.
When asked how he broke his addiction, he said, "I wanted to live."
There is something heartwarming about a man who, homeless as a teenager, now works so hard to make sure others have a home when they need it most.
VanNess has personally raised thousands of dollars for the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis. By 2016, he had raised more than $6,000, which has helped dozens of Hoosier families have a place to stay while children are being treated at a medical facility.
Now, many of the businesses on his walk are in lockstep with him. Some give him small bags and others trash bags — all full of tabs.
"He is pretty well-known in Anderson," Raina Rigney of Old National Bank shared as he strolled into her bank. "Not too many people would take the time out of their day to do the things he does."
The pop tab program had generated $820,000 since its inception in 1995 and no one has raised more money than the Can Man. He is living proof that "the Can Man can" make a difference, and truly has.