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Special Olympics-Special Smiles

July 13, 2012

Members of Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity Chi Chapter
(University of Michigan)

Waking up at six am on Saturday morning and driving two hours in the rain to Central Michigan University Campus just did not sound like a great idea…Well, that’s what we thought until we arrived to participate in Special Olympics Special Smiles. Eight members of AO Chi Chapter along with several of our alumni had the privilege of performing dental health screenings and fluoride applications on over 200 athletes, most of whom have numerous dental problems and a limited access to care.  It was quite a humbling experience to be surrounded by hundreds of children and adults with special health care needs, along with many volunteers from all over the state who helped to make this event such a success.

 “ We drove here from eleven hours away to see you guys”…”I never knew that the dentists see kids like me”…”I have not seen a dentist in twenty years”…Those are just some of the excerpts from many stories that we have heard that day. Many of them were heart-touching and moving. The four hours that we spent there on Saturday morning allowed for the most eye-opening experience into a life of a person with special needs. With the help of the Detroit Mercy AO Chapter, we were able to enter the dental health information of each athlete into a state-wide database that is aimed at connecting these special patients with the dentists in their areas. Hopefully, this will allow them to find ‘dental homes’ soon!

The athletes and their families kept thanking us for the services and the dental supplies that AO Detroit Alumni Chapter kindly provided for these special patients. Yet, really, all we wanted to say was “Thank you for the opportunity to experience altruism at its finest!”


The next Special Olympics Special Smiles is scheduled for this November in East Lansing. Alpha Omega will be there making mouthguards for the athletes!

Alpha Omega is the worldwide dental fraternity that strives to promote the profession of dentistry and foster high standards of scholarship, leadership, and character. It was founded in 1907 by Jewish dental students to combat undemocratic policies towards minority groups in graduate schools. As a proponent of diversity, today our members include persons of many ethnicities and faiths, with active chapters in six continents.
Chi Chapter at the University of Michigan holds a volunteering event  once a month working with such organizations as “Food Gatherers of Ann Arbor”, Community Dental Center in Ann Arbor,” Neighbors Building Brightmoor and the Brightmoor Farmway” in Detroit etc. We are always looking for volunteers and the ideas for philanthropic events! Our next volunteering event is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th from 5.30 to 7.30pm. We will be helping Food Gatherers at their Carrot Way Warehouse!

Elena Petrova, AO Philanthropy Chair

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