Affordable Dental Care is aiming to raise $80,000 in their fifth annual Smileathon, coming up November 13 in conjunction with the Madison Marathon.
They’re looking for runners to join their team by raising donations from family and friends and then running the 10k, half marathon or full marathon on November 13.
It’s also fine to seek donations and sponsors to engage in any kind of activity that day – walk, bike, swim – whatever suits you, executive director Areli Estrada said.
Team members who join by September 1 will have a page on the Affordable Dental Care website to enroll sponsors and collect donations.
All three Madison Marathon races will traverse the “Smile Mile,” past the Affordable Dental Care Clinic on Fordem Avenue, where staff and volunteers will have hot drinks, water for runners and lots of entertainment throughout the day.
All money raised will support the day to day operations of the clinic, which has increased its services by 20 percent in 2022.
In 2021, the clinic performed about 5,900 procedures on about 2,800 patients – including 500 emergency procedures – all with one full-time dentist and one full-time hygienist. That’s going to increase this year with the addition of another hygienist and another part-time dentist, along with the services of two volunteer dentists.
Estrada said about one in three Dane County residents lack dental insurance, and many of those also don’t qualify for government programs and free clinics.
“We serve the uninsured and underinsured people that do not have access to dental insurance. We don’t take insurance, we don’t compete with private practice dentistry, or community health centers,” Estrada said. “But we provide access to fill the gap for those that do not fit into either category for government assistance, or private insurance … Just running a dental practice is very expensive. private practices make millions. We don’t make a profit. Everything that we get we give it back in one way or another.”
Estrada noted that the organization doesn’t own its building, but rather pays $36,000 each year in rent. This annual fundraiser is important because all money raised can be used in an unrestricted manner, just to “keep the lights on,” Estrada said.
“We’ve been very successful at securing grants, but they come with a lot of strings attached and the reporting (requirements),” she said. “This peer to peer fundraiser is very crucial and critical to have more flexibility with the funds.”
Estrada said dental care is important to the overall health of families and the community.
“Research indicates that oral health is linked to our systemic health. We’re trying to create more awareness about the lack of access to dental insurance, the lack of access to dental care, and how it’s linked to our systemic to our mental and overall health,” Estrada said. “If children are experiencing tooth pain, then they start missing school. There’s a lot of missed school due to toothaches. People miss work. They make mistakes at work. And obviously, that affects production in the workplace. That affects the learning of a child. And you know, having a good smile really build someone’s confidence. That’s what we’re doing. We’re giving people their smiles back.”
More information and links to register and donate are available at the Affordable Dental Care website.