Athletes Take the Gold, Smile Big at Special Olympics

Whose smile was bigger? Athletes or volunteers? That was the contest this past Saturday morning at the Special Olympic State Indoor Games in Waynesville. No, this wasn’t an official competition, but inside the classroom where MDA held Special Smiles dental screenings for the athletes, it was hard to tell who was grinning bigger – the medal wearing athletes or the warm-hearted volunteers. It sounds cliché but everyone leaves a winner.

We had a power-packed morning getting set up and screening more than 70 athletes. A steady trickle of hard-working competitors came to see our team of seven dentists and assorted volunteers. After a good screening, they were given a report card for their oral health and then instructed about proper oral hygiene before leaving with a goody bag with brush, paste and floss for use at home. I was so impressed with the kindness and care shown by all our volunteers. It never disappoints when we serve others in this fashion.

A shout out to my dental lead, Dr. Emily Hahn and the other dentists volunteers: Dr. Bob Jones, Dr. David Hacker, Dr. Clint Chlarson, Dr. Dmitriy Pivnik, and the Team Arquitt (Dr. Carrie, Dr. George and two very helpful daughters). My support team was awesome as well. Thank you: Brittany Hartrup, Becky Kline, Skylee Phillips,  TJ Grybinas, Leah Roberts, and four super sub students from Waynesville High. And lastly kudos to Carol Griffin and all the Special Olympic Missouri (SOMO) folks who pull off these games with class and warmth and great support.

SOMO plans to try Special Smiles screenings at Area Games in Columbia (April 16) and St. Louis (April 30). The next MDA-sponsored event will be at the SOMO State Outdoor Games in Springfield on May 21. Sign up at


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