Minutes after raising over $17,000 for the Oral Cancer Foundation during Nashville’s “Boot Scootin’ for Oral Cancer Screening III” walk one year ago, lead event organizer Nicki Raines predicted that the 2012 event would raise more than $20,000. Well, the results are in, and—sure enough—the April 14 “Boot Scootin’ for Oral Cancer Screening IV” walk raised $21,703.
As in 2011, Nicki and her two co-organizers (and fellow hygienists)—Ellen Crosby and Holly Hill—employed their highly creative “flocking” tactic. In the weeks leading up to the walk, they planted flocks of plastic flamingos in front of dozens of Nashville-area dental practices after the practices had closed. As they came to work the next morning, the unsuspecting dental staff, as well as their patients, were welcomed by numerous flamingos, a sign saying “You’ve been flocked!” and supplies of pamphlets, buttons and other Oral Cancer Foundation materials promoting the need for regular oral cancer screenings. Practices were charged a “removal fee” of $25 for removing the flamingos, and a “removal and relocation fee” for transplanting them in front of another dental practice of their choice. Most of these practices ended up not only happily paying the “removal and relocation fee,” but supporting the walk by either attending the event, donating to it, or both.
In fact, this year’s walk witnessed such great involvement from Nashville-area dental practices and other teams that Nicki, Ellen and Holly decided to give out some special awards. In recognition of bringing the most team members (25), Embassy Dental awarded gold trophy boots. Pamela Dedman, VP of Operations for this group dental practice, was instrumental in coordinating this impressive turnout. Members of Team Veaz, named for oral cancer survivor—and walker John Garrett Veazey, Jr., were awarded “specially decorated and colorfully tacky” cowboy hats for raising over $5,000. And members of Team Whitefield were awarded stuffed flamingos for their matching “Flocking for Oral Cancer Awareness” t-shirts that won them the award for the best team spirit.
All in all, a remarkable 324 people participated in the event, either by walking, donating online, or writing sponsorship checks. Of this total, 123 people participated in the 5K walk, and 40 of them received oral cancer exams conducted by Embassy Dental and members of the Nashville Area Dental Hygienists Society (NADHS) using the VELscope oral cancer screening device. Suspicious lesions were detected for four of these people, who were referred to specialists for follow-up exams.
Speaking to the attendees prior to the walk were Christine Brader, a highly inspirational three-time oral cancer survivor, and Mr. Veazey. Auction and raffle items included prints of local artist Kelly O’Neil’s painting “Mine for a Moment,” which she created in honor of a close friend who recently died of oral cancer.
In addition, Nashville legend Charlie Daniels donated a gold fiddle that went for over $350.
As always, the event’s dynamic organizers arranged for live entertainment, including Gary Slayton and Janelle Dodson. Janelle is a hygienist and NADHS officer who recently moved to Nashville to become a part of the local music scene.
One additional key to the success of this year’s walk was the fundraising prowess of Robin Rhowling, another hygienist who recently moved to the Nashville area. With Robin’s skills being added to the energy and creativity of Nicki Raines, Ellen Crosby and Holly Hill, it would appear that “Boot Scootin’ for Oral Cancer Screening V” is a shoe-in for Nashville’s most successful walk yet!