ANDERSON, Ind. — Larry VanNess, known for collecting tabs from aluminum cans for the Ronald McDonald House is the Herald-Bulletin's person of the year.
Dubbed the "Can Man," VanNess started collecting tabs in 2003 after talking to a family about the Ronald McDonald House. In his decades of service, he collected more than 27 million pop tabs to the organization.
VanNess died Oct. 24 from complications after getting hit by a car three weeks prior.
After the crash, the community rallied to donate can tabs to the Ronald McDonald House in his honor. They collected more than 300,000, then got another 800,000 in the month after his death.
The Herald Bulletin said more than 100 community members nominated VanNess for the annual honor.
"He would have been proud and humbled," Rachel Landers, VanNess' friend an caregiver told the newspaper. "He would downplay himself and say that it was a team effort. He would have been proud of it and taken it to heart."
Landers called the honor bittersweet.
"I appreciate that so many people in the community loved and appreciated him."
Landers said she is continuing to carry on VanNess' legacy by collecting tabs in his memory. She said she'll restart the effort after the holiday season.
The Herald Bulletin's Person of the Year is chosen by the newspaper's editorial board. The board considers reader nominations, in addition to other difference makers in the community. The winner is selected based on contributions to the community.