Having been in the dental industry for over 25 years (no need for me to say how many over), I am keenly aware just how generous our industry is. However, I’m also amazed at how we all just give when the need arises. I think of the tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri several years ago or most recently, Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed many parts of the East Coast. Through these tragedies everyone just “does.” We give of our time, donate blood, provide food, water, or whatever is needed to help get people back on their feet.
On Wednesday, February 20, 2013, our industry gathered for a cause that wasn’t Mother Nature related. We came together for the 23rd Annual Oral Health America Gala. The major annual fundraiser for OHA, this event brings our industry together to raise crucial funds for OHA’s four key programs:
Smiles Across America – funding for school-based prevention programs across the nation.
Wisdom Tooth Project – works to improve the lives of older adults.
NSTEP – a program designed to prevent people, specifically young people, from starting to use spit and smokeless tobacco and aims to help users quit.
Campaign for Oral Health Equity – communications initiatives and events that help prioritize mouth health alongside other health considerations.
The event began with a Pre-Gala recognition ceremony for Don “Mac” McKenzie, who received OHA’s Gala Tribute Award for his dedication to the dental industry and specifically to OHA. Colleagues, friends and coworkers shared memories and thanked Mac for his service to so many parts of our industry.
The formal evening began with a networking cocktail party and then moved to the grand ballroom for a live auction, featuring incredible prizes ranging from a New York shopping trip to “meet the executive” packages for companies like Patterson. Throughout the evening guests could bid on silent auction items ranging from ad space in major industry publications to autographed sports memorabilia and weekend getaways. Guests could also purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win three major prizes: a carbon fiber touring bike, a technology package (including iPad® and other gear), and a vacation getaway in St. Lucia.
Before the dancing began that night, I’m happy to report over $500,000 was collected. All proceeds from the event go directly into operating revenue for OHS’s key programs.
As I said at the start, I’m amazed at how we just give when the need arises. This industry that we are all a part of is a special place. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I’m proud to be associated with such a wonderful organization known as Oral Health America!