A story and a cause

Last summer on June 22, before COVID-19 flipped our world upside down, 22 members of the Colorado ASDA chapter woke up on “game day.” Jumping out of bed, they stuffed their faces full of oats and protein, laced up their shoes and put on their game faces before making the drive over to the outdoor Hoops Park in Aurora, Colorado. What could have possibly inspired 22 dental students to wake up early on a day off you ask? Well, in this case, Colorado ASDA’s first 3v3 fundraiser for Dental Lifeline Network (DLN).

As a former basketball junkie and our chapter’s associate chair of events, I’d worked hard with fellow classmate Lauren Mendicino, the associate chair of outreach, to pioneer and execute this new idea. I mean, what’s more fun than bringing a bunch of competitive dental students together to scratch and claw their way to a title? Nothing. Yeah, I mean I really can’t think of anything.

Anyway, the stage was set. The bracket was finalized, the basketballs were aired up, and our competitors were ready. The only thing not ready? The court (which had just been roped off and was undergoing construction) and the weather (yikes).

Before I proceed with our story, here are a couple of disclaimers to lighten your judgement of me as a novice associate chair of events. One, the outdoor court was a public space and unable to be reserved (so I’d suggest reserving an indoor space ahead of time for an event like this), and two, Colorado weather is more temperamental than a dental student after a practical they’re convinced they failed (but probably didn’t).

The storm

Abandoning our hopes to play at Hoops Park and hoping we could get our fundraiser in before the ominous clouds in the distance were drawn to the biggest basketball tournament of the century, we packed everything and went to a different park. As our only fan at the new venue, the storm rolled in just as we took the court.

Our parade having officially been rained on, we lost hope — that is until one of our brave ballers offered their church’s gym for one last shot. And we couldn’t throw away our…shot! (Hamilton reference — sorry not sorry, just got Disney+.)

The gym

Finally, we had a court suitable for a stormy day in Aurora. Before any chance lightning bolts could set our last hope ablaze, we hooped for DLN.

First round — done. Second round — done. Third round? Not so fast.

Before we could crown our champions, we were greeted by the wedding party of a couple getting married in the gym later that day. Offering to help set up chairs and tables for the occasion if they let us play for a few more minutes, we accepted our fate. The first true champion wouldn’t be crowned until summer 2020 — or so we thought (thanks, SARS-CoV-2).

The point of the story

I tell you this story not because it was a defining event put on by our chapter, but because it’s not always easy to make a difference. Even though our first court was under construction, our second court got rained on and our third reserved for a wedding, the generosity of individual Colorado ASDA members enabled our chapter to make a $210 donation to DLN, a critical organization that serves those in our community who need it most.

Getting involved at DLN

Living in our new reality of social distancing, I know several ASDA chapters (including Colorado) have been working hard to find new ways to engage members. Here are some things we can do through the national humanitarian organization DLN.

First, as dental students, we can pledge to volunteer once we graduate to join the 16,000 dentists and 3,500 laboratories that volunteer for the DLN DDS Program. We can also follow their social media (@dentallifeline), share a DLN story (like this one about our epic failure to host a 3v3 basketball tournament) in your ASDA chapter newsletter and request a DLN board member dentist to speak (Zoom) at your school.

Most importantly, for charitable organizations such as DLN, money matters! For every dollar donated, DLN provides $9 worth of comprehensive dental care to those who need it most. If you’re looking to fundraise for DLN, consider participating in the Lifeline Heroes Challenge fundraiser, organizing a virtual 5K or making a donation.

I’ll leave you with this: There’s no best way to give back. It’ll take all of us, each of us doing our part, to make a difference. So buckle up and pull out the drawing board. I can’t wait to see what ASDA members like you and your chapter come up with! Stay healthy, my friends.

~Jakob Holtzmann, Colorado ’22

This blog post was sponsored by Dental Lifeline Network.

Dental Lifeline Network

Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1974, that nationally provides access to dental care for people who cannot afford it and have a permanent disability, or who are elderly (age 65+) or who are medically fragile.

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