April 2016
Volume 7, Issue 4

Giving Back

Laboratory professionals working to make the world a better place

The dental laboratory community is filled with people who give back, whether it is providing free dental work for those in need, using the resources of a successful business to make a difference, or simply devoting time and effort for selfless causes. In the following pages, we put the spotlight on four dental laboratory professionals who give back to the community in extraordinary ways, and who hope that their stories inspire their peers to follow suit.

Bob Savage: An Ironman for Charity

Raising funds and awareness for oral healthcare through athletics

By Alex Medaglia

It was an unseasonably warm and humid November morning in Florida as Bob Savage stood at the starting line of his fourth Ironman race, a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run. He had been training for almost a year, and he was ready to complete one of the toughest races in the world — again — all while raising more than $30,000 for an oral health care charity . More than six years ago, however, Savage could not have imagined taking part in an Ironman.

“I originally started out doing sprints,” Savage says, “which are shorter triathlons. After the first triathlon I completed, my friends asked if I was going to do an Ironman. I told them there was no way. Two years later, I finished my first one.”

The challenge of accomplishing such a physically and mentally rigorous course was a crucial part of Savage’s motivation, and it required significant discipline.

“I enjoyed the training aspect of it. It didn’t come easy to me. I wasn’t a swimmer or a biker and I definitely was not a long distance runner, so for me it was the challenge of pursuing a new goal,” Savage says. “I use periodization training to get ready for an Ironman. I have long blocks of training for two or three weeks, and then I go into a rest period for one week to allow my body to recover. Then, I increase volume again for another two to three weeks. My final rest period is a week before the race, with the goal of peaking on race day.”

Along with achieving a new goal, Savage found a way to integrate philanthropy into his passion for athletics through the Ironman Foundation’s Your Journey Your Cause program. The program allows athletes to raise money either for the Ironman Foundation or for a charity of their choice. Savage chose to raise money for the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation, whose core purpose is to broaden oral health care awareness and access for those in need. “It gives the race a platform and a tremendous meaning for participants,” Savage says.

“What I admire about the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation is that it deals with oral healthcare as a whole, not just a certain subset,” says Savage, who sits on the DTA’s board of directors. “The DTAF provides grant money for young, innovative oral health projects that need the funds to expand their programs, either regionally or nationally. The board goes through a fairly lengthy review and grant process and typically about six $25,000 grants are offered to organizations to expand their programs.

“As a whole, the board looks for projects that are sustainable and have a platform to potentially grow into a national campaign to promote oral healthcare. I felt that it was a great use of funds to donate to this organization.”

The exhausting yet rewarding Ironman event requires an immense amount of training and discipline, and Savage says that much of his success comes from the support of his family, friends, and donors.

“When you are running these long-course triathlons, it is amazing what a boost it will give you to see your family and friends out on the course, and the people who donated to the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation,” he says. “You can’t quit at that point; you have to keep pushing forward.”

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