Honoring our Heroes: Bill Urianek

Posted: Updated:

The wounds of war can run deep both physically and mentally, and the road to recovery can be a tough one.

Bill Urianek, of Mineola, has made it his mission to help ease the hardship.

“’Bill the Can Man.’ Everybody knows me as that,” says Urianek.

The 89-year-old turns bottles into bucks and cans into cash to raise money for the rehabilitation of wounded warriors.

Four hours a day, seven days a week, the former Marine sergeant and Korean War veteran collects, sorts and bags recyclables with military precision.

“So far this year we're doing about 3,300 bottles and cans a week,” said Urianek.

His devotion really is enormous and contagious.

Word spread about Urianek’s mission, and now hundreds of Nassau residents, including students at Dutch Broadway Elementary School, have joined forces with "Bill the Can Man."

Every Wednesday, the kids collect bottles and cans left in bins by members of the student body and donate them to Bill's cause.

To date, Bill and his army of supporters have collected over 1.1 million bottles and cans, which have been redeemed for more than $55,000.

They've donated money to four wounded warriors over the years, and this October they added a fifth recipient.

Former Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco lost both arms and legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2009.

He received a rare double arm transplant seven years ago.

At a special ceremony, several veterans groups joined Urianek in presenting Marrocco with checks totaling $7,000.

“That's just plain badass. I mean he's walked the walk, he's talked the talk and now he's giving back, so it's amazing,” said Marroccoo.

Urianek also raises money for several other causes, including America's Vet Dogs, Building Homes for Heroes, and Hope for the Warriors.

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