HIKING MILES FOR SMILES!

Dental Economics on Climb for a Cause

Joe Blaes
June 25, 2009

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: Climb For a Cause, dental health education, dental treatment, disadvantaged, continuing education, philanthropy, Dr. Joe Blaes.

Almost two-and-a-half centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin proffered his famous advice, “Do well by doing good.“ Dr. Franklin would no doubt be pleased to know there is a nonprofit organization that makes it easy for dental practitioners to do just that. In fact, this organization’s motto goes Dr. Franklin one better: “Do well by doing good … and having fun.“

The organization is Climb For a Cause. It was founded in 1994 by Daniel Bobrow, president of American Dental Marketing, a dental practice marketing consulting firm. While his vocation for more than 20 years has been helping dental practices increase their revenues, his avocations include philanthropy and climbing some of the world’s most scenic and challenging mountains.

“During my first few years in the industry, I met a few dentists who were also interested in climbing,“ says Bobrow. “It eventually dawned on me that there was a way to combine all three of my passions — dentistry, climbing, and giving back.“

During the past 15 years, Climb For a Cause has organized annual climbing and trekking events that have raised money and other needed resources, making it possible to deliver dental health education and treatment to thousands of disadvantaged people around the world.

Climb For a Cause participants typically include dentists, their family members, staff members, and other dental industry representatives. Past events have taken place at such magnificent locations as Oregon’s Mount Hood, California’s Mount Whitney, and Mount Marcy near New York’s Lake Placid.

Technically, the word “climb“ is a bit of a misnomer, as ropes and climbing hardware are not involved. According to Bobrow, “rigorous hike“ is a more accurate description, although, as he points out, “Rigorous Hike for a Cause“ isn’t particularly catchy. While no prior experience is required, participants do need to be in good shape. In fact, many use the months leading up to the event to get in their condition, another benefit of participation. Those who are not quite up for the full hike may choose from a variety of equally interesting and exciting activities in the surrounding area.

The events are usually held over Labor Day weekend. Participants arrive on Friday, spend Saturday attending dental-related seminars for CE credit and making last-minute preparations for the big event, and then hiking to the summit on Sunday. Participants invariably find the event to be an experience they will always remember.

In addition to seeing some of the most wondrous scenery nature has to offer — and getting a tremendous workout in the process — they also get to meet some very special people; people who are not only successful members of this very vital industry, but who have taken the time and made the effort to support a wonderful cause. Many relationships forged at a Climb For a Cause event thrive well after this memorable three-day weekend.

Another important aspect of the event is the Saturday session. Over the years, respected thought leaders have given informative, stimulating presentations involving such relevant topics as practice management, clinical procedures, and new technologies, often earning CE credit for participants.

The location of this year’s event is truly spectacular — the world-famous Half Dome in California’s Yosemite Valley. Half Dome is featured on the California state quarter, has had a starring role in many movies, and was a favorite subject of Ansel Adams’ masterful black and white photography.

Participants may wish to extend the event into a family vacation by taking advantage of Half Dome’s proximity to such sensational sights as San Francisco, the Napa and Sonoma wine regions, the Monterey Peninsula, the Gold Country, and Lake Tahoe.

Climb For a Cause relies on the energy and generous spirit of not only its hikers, but dental practitioners who volunteer their time and talents to provide sorely needed dental services to those less fortunate.

In recent years, Climb For a Cause projects have focused on Guatemala and Cambodia, often in remote locations that can be accessed only by volunteers who possess physical and mental stamina. Founder Bobrow is considering other locations for future projects, including some in the United States.

Wherever the location, the Climb For a Cause philosophy will continue to be based on the ancient proverb, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.“ To that end, Climb For a Cause volunteers focus on supplying and training local practitioners so that they can provide needed services long after the volunteers have returned home.

The residents of Guatemala, Cambodia, and other remote areas are not the only beneficiaries of Climb For a Cause. Participating dental practices reap big benefits of their own — this is where the “doing well“ part comes into play — by throwing a fund-raising send-off or post-event celebration. Event organizing and promotion assistance is offered on a complimentary basis by Bobrow’s marketing firm, American Dental Marketing (www.americandentalco.com).

One recent participant’s party attracted more than200 attendees, only half of whom were patients. This means that in addition to raising funds for Climb For a Cause, the practice received valuable exposure to more than 100 prospective new patients.

As is often the case, a local TV station felt the story was so newsworthy that it ran a feature on “the athletic dentist with the big heart“ on the evening news, providing considerable exposure at zero cost to the practice.

Even practices that are not involved in the climb can support the cause. One way is to simply make a donation to Climb For a Cause. But an even better alternative is to throw a party like the one described. This way, the practice can not only raise more money for the cause, but it can also enjoy the benefits of exposure to prospective new patients.

Anyone who is interested in participating in an event, throwing a fund-raising party, making a contribution, or simply learning more about the organization can visit www.climbforacause.org.

Daniel Bobrow believes that cause marketing is a highly effective tool that is largely overlooked by most practices.

“To be clear, the main reason to pursue cause marketing is to help those in need,“ he says. “But the real bonus of cause marketing is that the dental practices supporting the cause can’t help but benefit in the process. And when you add the fact that the event itself is such a fun and exhilarating experience, everybody wins!“

Doing well by doing good and having fun. We’re pretty sure Ben Franklin would approve.