By Kevin Henry, editor
No pun intended, but it's very clear that John T. Stefanick (pictured above, second from right) was the "driving" force behind one of dentistry's most creative and media-filled days of 2011.
Stefanick, the director of industry and professional relations for 3M ESPE, was the genesis behind the idea of holding a Give Kids A Smile event at the NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October. Simply put, Stefanick thought leveraging one of his company's assets, namely the NASCAR 3M Racing Team, would generate interest and raise funds for Give Kids A Smile. In a matter of a few short months, a daunting idea became a reality that helped hundreds of children in the Carolinas.
"Everything was John. He thought up the concept, got it approved, got 3M corporate and racing on board, and pulled everything together," said Dr. Jeff Dalin, co-founder of Give Kids A Smile (pictured above, second from left). "He walked into our advisory board meeting and told us his idea. It blew us all away."
"We love the idea of bringing together one of the most popular sporting events with a dental health message about oral care for children," Stefanick said before the race. "By working with Henry Schein Cares and the American Dental Association, and with the support of dental professionals and the dental industry, we feel we can bring a strong oral health and education message to thousands of fans at the race and raise awareness and funds to help the Give Kids A Smile Program accomplish its goals."
During the five-hour children's dental clinic before the race, newly installed ADA President Bill Calnon joined 85 volunteers to give each of the 175 or so participating kids a panoramic digital radiograph saved on a USB drive bracelet for them to take home, fluoride varnish treatment, and pit and fissure sealants.
Plans are already underway for Give Kids A Smile to host two NASCAR clinics in 2012.
"John took the bull by the horns," Dr. Dalin said. "We exceeded everyone's expectations in Charlotte."