WJXT's Positively Jax partnership with the Florida Dental Association Foundation helped provide nearly 3,000 people with urgently needed dental care at no cost to the patients. The Florida Mission of Mercy, a two day free dental clinic, offered free dental examinations, fillings, tooth extractions, root canal treatment, children's dentistry, temporary partial dentures and dental cleanings. The dental care donated is valued at over $2.7 million.
People in need of dental work began lining up Thursday morning for the April 22-23 event, which brought together hundreds of dental and non-dental professionals to fix the smiles of Jacksonville-area residents who could not otherwise afford it.
"The genuine appreciation of the people who took advantage of this event was overwhelming," said WJXT Vice President and General Manager Bob Ellis. "The smiles said it all. We are so proud to serve our community and will look for more opportunities to use our voice as Jacksonville's true local TV station to make our community a better place to live," he continued.
"I've waited for this all my life. Oh my God, I can't believe it," said Wanda George after getting out of Dr. Richard Caven's dental chair. When first evaluated, the mother of four who had not seen a dentist in years, was told her teeth were probably too far gone to save. But Craven said that hearing Wanda George was about to get married in three months, worked to save her teeth. "That definitely makes me say, 'Yeah, we've got to get this one right,'" Craven said. "That's when we know we have success...when the patient is happy with the way it looks." News4JAX plans to follow up on Ms. George's story during her wedding in July.
Said Dr. Zack Kalarickal, DDS, "It was wonderful to partner with WJXT Channel 4 for the 2016 Florida Mission of Mercy. Having WJXT on our team helped us truly help Jacksonville!"
Dr. Roger Robinson, DMD, one of the event's organizers, said "The ability of WJXT to get the word out and reach the dentally underserved was absolutely astonishing as witnessed by the tremendous turnout of dental patients on both days."
To make sure as many people were treated as possible, more than 2,400 volunteers were at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Robinson said there was no shortage of volunteers and many of them came from all over the state and even paid for their own travel and accommodations because this is something they truly believe in.
Every person News4JAX spoke with had a compelling story or need—and gratitude. "I totally appreciate the opportunity," said Saprina Cooks. "I'm totally grateful."
Positively Jax is an annual campaign dedicated to celebrating what's uniquely wonderful about Jacksonville by highlighting the people and things that make living here special. Each month WJXT Channel 4 and our partner, Memorial Hospital, sponsors a Community Outreach Event and presents a Positively Jax award recognizing people or organizations making a difference in the community.