So back in the Day, some 20 years ago, Temple City was much the same town I knew as a kid being accompanied by either Mom or Dad and buying school clothes at Stoppel’s.
When teeth whitening debuted around 1990, I tried-out the approach on friends, relatives, and team members. Shucks, most of the relatives in question had already survived my early clinical efforts in dental school so I knew they could probably survive a little dose of hydrogen peroxide.
And yeah, at first, I thought teeth whitening was pretty superficial, shallow stuff. But it didn’t take long for me to adjust my opinion. Firstly, teeth whitening was a slam-dunk; it worked and it was safe.
I had no idea where whiter, brighter smiles would lead. As it turned out, folks who’d stayed away from the dentist the way the Clippers stay away from the play-offs, began to trickle in, open wide, and catch up.
So because of teeth whitening, oral cancers were detected, gum disease was diagnosed, and hypertension was measured; folks were reconnected with their oral health; some lives were even saved. But I had no idea how many future lives would be touched.
This week marks the twelfth year of Smiles for Life (SFL). Back in 1998, Doc Jeff Gray (one of my DDS buddies from down in San Diego,) came up with the idea of dentists providing teeth whitening to patients at reduced fees with all the proceeds going to charity. Like me, Jeff is a member of Crown Council, a national organization of progressive dental practices also committed to giving back to the community.
With the backing of Crown Council and the support of Extreme Makeover Doc Bill Dorfman and his company Discus Dental, Smiles for Life was born. And in the last 11 years Crown Council practices have raised over $25 million, with all proceeds going to help children in the areas of health, education, and the inner city. Today, our SFL partner is Garth Brooks. Half of the money raised is distributed through Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation; the other half benefitting the local non-profit of a participating practice’s choice.
Alright, so I’m a USC grad and a total unapologetic USC Trojan football honk…and I’m proud of it. And if you guys watch 60 Minutes, maybe you saw the feature on USC football coach Pete Carroll. 60 Minutes wasn’t interviewing Carroll regarding his huge success on the football field even though his relentlessly positive approach and unique commitment to “winning forever” and coaching to build young players up would seemingly warrant a spot on the show. The piece was more about Carroll’s late night coaching in dangerous neighborhoods only a short distance away from the USC campus.
In 2003, Coach Pete founded A Better LA; since 2006, Carroll has made 1 AM visits to the now mean streets of my early childhood without security or fanfare. Coach Carroll wants to create hope by inspiring people who are leaders to lead powerfully, not destructively. “Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. And sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching. And you know, the greatest things can happen.”
When asked if he really believed the above quote, Carroll replied, “No, I know that’s true. I know that’s true. I’ve seen it. I’m livin’ it.” Sergeant Curtis Woodle, a 13-year veteran of L.A. gang wars agrees and gives Carroll’s group credit for helping reduce the murder rate. “He’s actually rejuvenated me as a police officer. He’s actually given me hope,” Woodle said.
So this year, starting March 1 and running through June, you can join Temple City Dental Care and make a difference for Pete Carroll’s A Better LA and the too many kids who aren’t really that confident about their chances of living into adulthood. You’ll be donating a check to Smiles for Life and even more importantly, you’ll be making an offering of hope.
Why not have a brighter smile and something truly powerful to smile about?
Pete Carroll’s 60 Minutes’ interview can be seen at www.cbsnews.com.