But that would be stretching the truth. I'm not sure if I was ever capable of remembering 113 faces in a crowd. The Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction has had 113 recipients over the past 15 years. During the 1960s, I'm pretty sure I could name by sight 40 to 50 men who played for my favorite football team; at that age, I memorized all of their statistics too. These days, I just wait for the sports announcer to tell me who number 87 is-the fellow who just made an impressive tackle.
I am very fortunate. Some of the award recipients enjoy writing, and I keep up with them as the editor of their articles. Being a good writer, though, is not a requirement for the Award of Distinction. So I see many past recipients infrequently, often at a reception hosted by Sunstar Americas at the RDH Under One Roof conferences.
Besides being a term of endearment, pals forever is a slogan for the YMCA's Indian Guide program. The program encourages bonding between fathers and sons. I liked this description found on a YMCA website: "The slogan, pals forever, does not mean that father and son relate to each other as equals, such as two boys who are pals. Rather, it means that father and son have a close, enduring relationship in which there is communication, understanding, and companionship." I like close, enduring relationships based on communication, understanding, and companionship. Is there anyone who doesn't? The Indian Guide program worked for my 80-something father and his 60-something son. We're still pals after all these years. The Indian Guide program lists six goals for the developing relationship between a father and son. I would like to share three of them here: To be clean in body and pure in heart; to love the sacred circle of my family; and to listen while others speak. Insert "dental hygiene" before "family," and you can grasp the kind of virtues that Jackie Sanders, the manager of professional relations at Sunstar, extols when she said at the 2016 ceremony: "Each of you makes a difference in eight to 16 lives per day. You review health histories, take an individual's health care into your own hands, and make recommendations that may change a patient's life forever. After caring for others all day, many of you will go home to take care of family or care for other commitments, and seldom do you receive the thank you and appreciation you deserve."
The accomplishments of the four hygienists this year (see page 16) are remarkable, as they are every year for all of the preceding hygienists who received the award. But it's also about the quality of people that they are. You wish they were your neighbor, your banker, your physician, your dental hygienist, etc.
The quote by Jackie above, by the way, was not directed toward the 113 recipients of the Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction over the years, although they were included with the sentiment. Jackie directed her comment to every single dental hygienist attending the keynote session at RDH Under One Roof. Although you may not have been able to hear her in Maryland, she was talking about you too. So I would like to join in the applause for all dental hygienists who are distinctive for what they bring to our families, workplaces, and communities. Pals forever.