The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine goes to great lengths to make a large variety of activities available to its students, and many of those activities are of a charitable nature. One year ago, then first-year dental student Ross Uhrich volunteered to help with the school’s third annual Philly Oral Cancer Walk without giving it a lot of thought. As a result of that experience, he developed an appreciation for just how little he and most of his peers understood about the threat posed by oral cancer. He decided he would get even more involved in the cause of promoting oral cancer awareness, and in fact was named the co-chair of the school’s 4th annual walk.

That event took place on Sunday, April 29 and drew 243 participants. Of these, 169 participated in the walk, while 79 participated in a 5K run. Adding a run was the idea of Ross, a high school cross country runner. Both the walk and run started at the school’s campus but took two slightly different routes toward Philadelphia’s Center City and back.

Following the walk/run, participants were given the opportunity to receive oral cancer screenings given by dental school faculty and students from the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. They also heard two outstanding speakers. The first was Dr. Thomas Sollecito, Chairman of the Department of Oral Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. He was followed by keynote speaker Christine Brader, a three-time oral cancer survivor who gave what Ross described as a “very heartfelt and very well-received speech.”

Participants were offered a variety of refreshments, including a smoothie bar and other “oral cancer-friendly” foods. Oral cancer screening device manufacturer DentalEZ had a booth. The top finishers in the 5K race were given gift cards to local running stores and restaurants, as were the top fundraisers.

By the time Ross and his fellow co-chair, 3rd-year student Prince Dhillon, tallied their revenues and paid the event’s expenses, they had “philled” the Oral Cancer Foundation’s coffers with approximately $9,000.