Listen Live

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Oscar winner Tom Hanks is in Indianapolis to urge Hoosiers to lend a hand to those caring for veterans.

Hanks is chairman of the “Hidden Heroes” campaign, created by former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole three years ago to connect military caregivers with community resources to ease some of their other burdens. Hanks says it’s “community service” in the truest sense. He says people and businesses can donate their time and services to arrange a home loan, install wheelchair ramps in your house, or just cut the grass.

Dole says 5.5 million Americans give veteran loved ones the equivalent of $14 billion in unpaid care each year. That list includes Dole herself, whose husband, former Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, was seriously wounded in World War II.

Hanks and Dole were among the speakers at a luncheon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to recognize Indiana caregivers and promote awareness of the campaign. Indianapolis is one of 130 cities in 41 states in the Hidden Heroes network. Dole says her foundation is working with nonprofits and faith groups to add more.

Hanks is co-hosting an hour of NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He noted he has no connection with 1957 Indy 500 champion Sam Hanks — before joking that, since he’s in Indianapolis, “I hereby claim that Sam Hanks was a beloved great-uncle of mine….I often made trips to his farmhouse.”

Hanks filmed “A League of Their Own” in southern Indiana, and he recalls he “ate his way through Evansville” during the shoot. “Indiana is a state where the sun rises over a pond, and sets over an amber cornfield,” he says. “It’s a beautiful place to spend the day.”

Left to right: Former Indiana Fever All-Star Tamika Catchings, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina) and Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks (Photo: Eric Berman)