It’s not often someone gets a letter like the one Stan Schenher received one recent Sunday afternoon as he was jogging along Fall Creek Road near Holy Spirit at Geist church.
A little girl hopped out of her car and handed Schenher a homemade thank you card with these words inside: “I want to be like you when I grow up to help save our planet.”
With an accolade such as this, you might think Schenher is a politician, a teacher or a scientist. He is none of these. Stan Schenher is a trash runner.
While some men pick up golf or fishing as a hobby, Stan picks up trash. You may have seen him in his bright orange jogging shirt, stooping to pick up debris along Brooks School Road, 106th Street or Fall Creek. Admittedly, he doesn’t work up much of a heart rate when he “runs.” He’s usually stopping every few feet to grab a can, bottle or other garbage along the roadway.
“It’s something I’ve done for years,” said Stan, who first started cleaning up trash at the local hangout in Churubusco, Ind., where he grew up. Although he has run one marathon and 14 minis, Stan says, “Nowadays, I run more to clean up the trash than for distance.”
Stan logs about three miles a day, often covering the route between his Hamilton Proper home and his daughter’s house a few miles away. He officially adopted the stretch of 106th Street from Fall Road to Geist Road. When the Town of Fishers asked what name he wanted on the sign, Stan opted simply for “Trash Runner.”
“He is way too modest to think he’s doing anything great,” says friend and former neighbor Pat McClain, who lived next door to Stan and his wife, Linda, for more than 20 years, first in Castillia and later in The Moorings. “Stan always kept up the retention pond and common areas just to keep them beautiful.We don’t pat guys like him on the back often enough.”
Stan runs every day of the year, even during the winter months, and always comes home with bags full of recyclables. With the number of alcohol containers set out for recycling each week, Linda worries the neighbors will assume they’re heavy drinkers!
“He picks up trash everywhere we go,” says Linda. “He’s even an international trash picker upper. Every vacation we’ve been on, he’s picked up trash.”
What’s worse, he’s passed the compulsion on to his three grown daughters and four grandchildren. Linda recounts a recent trip to the park where she watched her granddaughters merrily picking up trash instead of climbing on the playground equipment.
“I don’t want them to be as anal as I am, but I hope they have a reasonable respect for it,” Stan says. “I just think you should leave the place a little better than you found it.”