By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
It was all smiles at Delray’s Spodak Dental Group during All-Star Smiles Day.
Joined by Marlins players Giancarlo Stanton and AJ Ramos, mascot Billy the Marlin and the Delray Fire Rescue and SWAT units, elementary schools kids from Liberty City were treated to a day of free dental care and activities.
“This is an unbelievable day for all of us,” dentist and owner of Spodak Dental Group Craig Spodak said to a group of volunteers before the bus loads of kids arrived. “A defining moment in my life is to screen these children.”
He said the No. 1 reason kids go to the hospital is due to dental pain. Statistics show that 16 million American children have untreated tooth decay and the number of kids that come from low-income families between the ages of 5 and 19 have twice as much tooth decay compared to kids from higher-income households.
Spodak reminded the volunteers that this will be the first trip to the dentist for many of the kids.
“We took it upon ourselves to step up and help take care of these kids,” he said.
The event is in its second year and Spodak says he has plans to expand the program nationwide in the next two years.
“We can make magic happen,” he said. “We have a vision to bring this across the nation.”
Stanton said it is important to him to be involved as a way to spread awareness and knowledge.
Stanton and Ramos were all smiles when the students arrived. They colored with them, threw pitches to them and danced to the jams a DJ was playing.
The partnership between Spodak and Stanton occurred after Stanton was treated by Spodak in Sept. 2014. Stanton had suffered dental damage during a baseball game and needed treatment. Then, the two joined forces to host the first All-Star Smiles Day in 2015.
The All-Star Smiles Foundation is set to become a nonprofit. Its mission is to eradicate the disease of childhood tooth decay. To do so, the group will provide a free dental experience to underserved children.
In addition to Spoodak’s team, other local dentists volunteered their staff and resources to treat the kids. The event is two-fold. The first half of the event involved a trip to Lenora B. Smith Elementary School where dentists screened more than 300 kids.
Two weeks later, 100 of those kids took a bus to Delray to visit Spodak and his team of dentists for treatment.
While they waited for their turn, they played ball with Ramos, danced with Billy the Marlin and climbed on a fire truck.
For more information, visit https://www.spodakdental.com