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Drill, fill and dance

Inaugural Dancing with the Dentists event raises $50,000


Dancing Dentists: (From left) Drs. Brian Brunacini, Jenny Fultz Brunacini, Ms. Sarah Knock, Drs. Glen Knock, Douglas Delli Colli, Nichol Penna, Joe Penna, Demi Kouzounas, Tarryn Strating MacCarthy and Killian MacCarthy strike a dance pose Nov. 6 at the Dancing with the Dentists fundraising event. The participants and organizers raised nearly $50,000 for two local dental charities.
Portland, Maine—To raise money for two charities, Dr. Glen Knock found success when he combined two of his passions: dentistry and dancing.
 
Fashioned after the television show “Dancing with the Stars,” Dr. Knock thought of organizing Portland, Maine’s first “Dancing with the Dentists” fundraising event.
 
“My wife and I have been ballroom dancing for a few years now and we love it,” he said. “But when I started throwing out the idea to friends and patients, 110 percent of them laughed and said, ‘Are you kidding?’”
 
But he wasn’t.
 
“I thought it’d be a fun thing to do,” Dr. Knock said. “I wanted to combine my passion for dancing, dentistry and helping local organizations.”
 
In addition, he said, it was a good way to show that dentists do more than “drill, fill and bill.”
 
A year after he came up with the idea, the inaugural Dancing with the Dentists came to fruition Nov. 6, raising nearly $50,000 for two dental charity organizations: Portland’s Healthcare for the Homeless Dental Clinic and Maine’s Dental Lifeline.
 
At the event, local dentists and their spouses (who are also dentists) each danced a two-minute routine with a professional ballroom dance instructor in front of about 400 people—many of which were friends, family and colleagues and employees from their own practices.
 
Dancing in front of hundreds of people was the most challenging part of the ordeal, said Dr. Jennifer Fultz, who along with her husband Dr. Brian Brunacini won in the augural event. The couple had the highest combined scored and received the disco ball trophy fully decked with dental mouth mirrors.
 
The couple competed with husband-wife teams: Drs. Douglas Delli Colli and Nichol Penna; Killian MacCarthy and Tarryn Strating MacCarthy; and Joe Pena and Demi Kouzounas.
 
They were judged by author Christiane Northrup, M.D., WGAN Morning Show host Ken Altshuler, and John Baldacci, Maine governor from 2003-11.
 

Champions: Drs. Brian Brunacini (left) and Jenny Fultz Brunacini hold their Dancing with the Dentists champions trophy.
None of the dentists have ever ballroom danced before until about September when they trained with instructors Polina Kirillova and Sergie Slussky.
 
Dr. Kouzounas, president of the Maine Dental Association, remembers her husband Dr. Pena finishing his first lesson. He was set to perform the rumba.
 
“My husband came home and the first thing he said was, ‘This is going to be really hard,’” Dr. Kouzounas said.
 
Despite the lack of experience, the dentists tackled the challenge head-on.
 
“It was amazing to see all that goes into dancing—the choreography, the music, the clothes, the hair, the make up!” said Dr. Fultz. “Much different than throwing on scrubs for a day’s work.”
 
The money raised, mainly through selling tickets to the event, have been donated to Maine’s Dental Lifeline Network, which through its Donated Dental Services program, provides access to comprehensive dental care for people with disabilities, who are elderly, or medically-fragile and cannot afford help.
 
Dancing with the Dentists also donated to the Oral Health Program at Health Care for the Homeless, which provides care to adults and adolescents experiencing homelessness in the greater Portland area.
  
“We all wanted to win, but in the end, it wall about raising money,” said Dr. Kouzounas, president of the Maine Dental Association.
 
“It was an easy decision to participate because the opportunity to have fun and learn a new skill while benefitting the local community was sure to be a great time,” Dr. Brunacini added.
 
As Dr. Knock and his planning board plan begin brainstorming for next year’s event, he said Dancing with the Dentists is something other dentists across the country can and should replicate.
 
“Anyone who want to use our event as a template for their community, we’d be more than happy to help them,” he said.
 
For more information on Dancing with the Dentists, visit www.dancingwiththedentists.com.