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Sponsors help Give Kids A Smile thrive

February 14, 2017

By David Burger

In 2002, Drs. Jeffrey Dalin and B. Ray Storm held the first Give Kids A Smile event in a soon-to-be-demolished dental clinic in St. Louis, with only 15 patient chairs.

Fifteen years later, Give Kids A Smile has grown exponentially into the ADA Foundation's signature access-to-care program. More than 1,400 GKAS events will be held nationwide in 2017, benefitting 300,000 children through the efforts of more than 30,000 volunteers. More than 5.5 million underserved children have received free oral health services since GKAS' beginning.

A nationwide effort like Give Kids A Smile can succeed only when the entire community pitches in to help — including the dental industry. GKAS volunteers have been able to help so many in a large part because of the enduring support of corporate sponsors who have provided vast amounts of funding, products and services through the years.

Henry Schein, Colgate and KaVo Kerr are the lead sponsors of GKAS, buttressed by other key sponsors that include CareCredit, 3M and Hu-Friedy as well as more than 110 others that have come together to build GKAS into the national movement it has become today.

"It really does take a committed group of individuals and organizations to make a team work," said ADA President Gary Roberts during Give Kids A Smile's official kick off for 2017 at Rutgers University's School of Dental Medicine in New Jersey Feb. 3. "I firmly believe that. Many others have donated their time and resources to this program, and we couldn't do this without them."

"Give Kids A Smile would not be possible if it weren't for our sponsors, who have donated millions of dollars worth of products and services to ensure that underserved children get the dental attention they deserve," said Dr. William Calnon, ADA Foundation president. "In this 15th anniversary year, the ADA Foundation wouldn't have been able to reach the more than 5.5 million kids without sponsors such as Henry Schein, Colgate and KaVo Kerr."

Henry Schein has served as the exclusive professional product sponsor of GKAS for more than a decade. In 2017, through Henry Schein Cares Foundation's in-kind donation program, Henry Schein and its supplier partners, listed below, donated products and services valued at about $1.5 million to the GKAS program: 3M ESPE, Acteon, Ansell/Microflex, Centrix, Coltene/Whaledent, Cranberry USA, Crosstex, DASH Gloves, DENTSPLY Professional, DMG America, DUKAL Corporation, Hu-Friedy, Integra–Miltex, Medicom, Premier, Kerr Restoratives, Kerr Rotary, Kerr TotalCare, Sempermed, Septodont, Sultan Healthcare, Sunstar Americas, TIDI Products, Tuttnauer USA, Young Dental and Zirc.

"Henry Schein has been involved with Give Kids A Smile since the beginning and has been actively committed to the program as the professional product sponsor while providing other resources," said Michele Penrose, director of global professional relations for Henry Schein. "GKAS is a public-private partnership with the ADA Foundation that underscores the seriousness of the silent epidemic of cavities in children across the United States. Cavities in children are preventable, and each of us has a role to play to improve the oral health literacy of caregivers, parents and children. Henry Schein is committed to expanding access to care for those in need, and GKAS is one of the company's flagship philanthropic initiatives. Corporate social responsibility is at the core of Henry Schein's culture, and we are committed to helping GKAS fulfill its mission of working towards the elimination of cavities in U.S. 5-year-olds by 2020."

Colgate has donated  $100,000 to the GKAS program since 2008, as well as substantial in-kind donations throughout the years. In 2017 alone, Colgate has contributed over 300,000 sets of toothpaste and toothbrushes for children who are participating in GKAS events all over the country.

"Supporting the ADA Foundation's Give Kids A Smile program is very important to Colgate," said Dr. Barbara Shearer, director of scientific affairs for Colgate. "Give Kids A Smile is perfectly aligned with our core value of caring. Colgate is proud to have been the exclusive consumer sponsor of Give Kids a Smile since 2007. Each year we donate 300,000 tooth-brushing kits and contribute to the Give Kids A Smile Fund. These donations help the volunteers to reach those children most in need and promote positive oral health behaviors. We look forward to partnering with the ADA Foundation, the other corporate sponsors, the volunteers and the children as Give Kids A Smile continues to evolve."
Since the inception of the GKAS program, KaVo Kerr has provided digital x-ray systems and staff expertise through its DEXIS brand to facilitate the screening at GKAS events.

"DEXIS, now part of KaVo Kerr, recognizes and supports its civic responsibility to give back to the dental community as a whole," said Candy Ross, director of industry and professional relations for KaVo Kerr. "When dental organizations, clinicians and companies join forces to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, so much good can, and has been, accomplished. Seeing the faces of children removed from pain is enough to make anyone want to be a part of such an impressive program. DEXIS/KaVo Kerr is a founding sponsor of the ADA Foundation's premier program, Give Kids A Smile. We initiated support in 2003 and have been an active part of developing the program as to what it is today."
CareCredit is the founding donor of the ADA Foundation's GKAS Fund and has contributed $100,000 annually since 2007, reaching a total of $1 million in 2016.

3M has supported screening, education, and awareness events since 2011. In 2017, 3M donated 3,000 introductory sealant kits to GKAS, helping volunteers place more than 400,000 sealants on underserved kids' teeth.

Hu-Friedy has co-sponsored the GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute since 2011. The GKAS Institute offers an opportunity for GKAS program coordinators across the U.S. to attend an in-person training session in St. Louis, where GKAS began.

For a complete list of sponsors of Give Kids A Smile since 2003, visit

To support GKAS, visit