Project carries forward spirit of T.H. native

Claire VanLandingham

A nonprofit named after a former Terre Haute resident tragically killed by an ex-boyfriend is raising funds to assist the Wabash Valley Health Center with an upcoming renovation/expansion project.

#BeMoreLikeClaire was formed to honor Lt. Claire VanLandingham, a Terre Haute native who attended Dixie Bee Elementary and Honey Creek Middle School.

VanLandingham was a promising, 27-year-old Navy dentist when she was murdered in January 2018 by an ex-boyfriend in Lake Forest, Ill.

The #BeMoreLikeClaire fund was established by her mother, Shannon VanLandingham, through the Douglas County Community Foundation in Lawrence, Kansas.

The fund “is a way for those of us who loved her — and those who never had the pleasure of meeting her — to pool our efforts to continue in some small way the work that she most certainly would have done,” according to a news release.

Now, the organization is raising funds for its first Terre Haute project, a grant to the Wabash Valley Health Center. “Its mission of providing increased access to healthcare aligns with our organization’s mission,” the release states.

The funds raised will support a new denture lab and an improved and expanded work space for the dentists and support staff.

The Wabash Valley Health Center has experienced dramatic growth in patient volume over the past five years and is planning a major renovation/expansion project.

A goal of #BeMoreLikeClaire is to fund a project in every community where she has lived, said her mom, Shannon VanLandingham.

When Charlie Welker, CEO of the health center, reached out to the organization, “He knew Claire was a dentist and interested in access to health care for everyone. It did turn out to be a perfect fit,” VanLandingham said.

#BeMoreLikeClaire has pledged $20,000 to the Terre Haute project.

The denture lab and work space will be named after Claire.

“We’re just incredibly grateful to Shannon and her organization that they want to support this project and allow us the honor of carrying on Claire’s legacy,” Welker said.

Those wanting to donate to the project can do so by going to the website at www.bemorelikeclaire.org.

Those who prefer to send a check can do so at the following address:

#BeMoreLikeClairefund; Douglas County Community Foundation; 900 Massachusetts — Suite 406; Lawrence, KS 66044.

The organization has supported several projects in the Lawrence, Kansas area including:

• Increased children’s access to dental care by purchasing a van for the Douglas County Dental Clinic’s school outreach program.

• Sponsored a bedroom remodel at the Willow Domestic Violence Center’s transitional living house.

• Raised funds to sponsor a four-bedroom home with Habitat for Humanity.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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