Saturday, March 2, 2013
Volunteers from across Kansas came together Friday and Saturday to perform millions of dollars in dental services for free to those less fortunate.
The Kansas Mission Mercy project set up the two-day event at Kansas Pavilions in Park City.
One of the nearly 150 dentists who volunteered their time was Dr. Dal Hunt. He's worked as a dentist for 36 years in Buhler, Kan.
"You have to give back a little of what you get," Dr. Hunt said.
One of Dr. Hunt's patients Saturday was Wichita's Kenney Baker. Baker had six teeth pulled at the clinic Friday and Saturday received his first-ever fillings.
"(The volunteers are) truly a blessing, truly a blessing," Baker said. "To volunteer their time for free and give back, I love it."
Hundreds of volunteers turned the Pavilions into a large exam room where they saw about 100 patients an hour.
"Everybody is just giving their time to do everything they can do for the people of Kansas to promote oral health," said Newton's Dr. Brett Roufs, supervisor of this year's Mission of Mercy project.
The project is now in its tenth year. Dr. Roufs says it has grown tremendously from when it was first held in Garden City and volunteers had patients sit in slingback chairs.
"When so many people come together it really takes on a life of its own and really grows," Dr. Roufs said.
It's grown to the point now where they are touching thousands of lives each year.
As some patients said Saturday, volunteers such as Dr. Dal Hunt have given them new reasons to smile.
"You can put yourself in their place (and realize) how nice it would be to get things back to the way they are supposed to be," Dr. Hunt said.
The Mission of Mercy dental clinic will move to Dodge City next year.