The day was September 11, 2014.
Millions watched as Giancarlo Stanton lay sprawled out across home plate after getting hit by a pitch in the fifth inning of the Miami Marlins versus Milwaukee Brewers game. The pitch had nailed Stanton in the face, and things weren’t looking good.
With the pitch coming in at 88 mph, the damage was just as bad as it looked. Stanton had suffered multiple fractures in his face as well as facial lacerations that would require stitches.
Despite the setbacks that the injury brought for Stanton’s career, they say that when one door closes another one opens. Stanton was no exception. While the injury ended his baseball season, it began a new season in his life. The injury birthed a passion for giving back and started a new chapter in Stanton’s life as a man dedicated to helping others.
After experiencing firsthand the challenges and stresses that receiving dental care can be, Stanton partnered with Spodak Dental Group, which is a dental office in South Florida. Through the partnership, Stanton and Spodak Dental Group helped elementary students in South Florida receive free dental care throughout the school year.
So why Spodak Dental Group? It is the office where Stanton was treated for his dental needs after that infamous day in September. For anyone to go into a medical office and actually enjoy their experience is a rare occurrence in itself, so Stanton’s affinity for Dr. Craig Spodak and Spodak Dental Group has been unique from day one. He fell in love with the culture at Spodak Dental Group. Pretty soon, he wanted a partnership.
The partnership then got a name: All-Star Smiles. The ultimate goal of All-Star smiles is to fight tooth decay among children in underserved communities. However, not only does the organization aim to help children, but Stanton and the staff at Spodak Dental Group have a goal of making each child’s dental experience as fun and comfortable as possible.
Just like Stanton’s career, the organization and its influence have grown tremendously since 2014. This is in part to Dr. Spodak’s vision of networking across the country and getting other dental offices involved.
130+ kids arriving to Spodak Dental in Delray for free dental care. Part of Miami Marlins Giancarlo Stanton's "All Star Smiles Foundation" pic.twitter.com/pekX2NZUIX
— Kara Duffy (@KaraDuffyCBS12) October 28, 2016
While it is incredibly common to see athletes start different charities and organizations, the unique part about All-Star Smiles is the personal connection that Stanton has with the organization. His season-ending injury birthed an idea that has now served hundreds of children in the United States.
However, the organization also fills in a space that is oftentimes overlooked amongst other nonprofit organizations. Transformational dentistry provides services that help people transform and improve their smiles, a service that Stanton himself has benefited from firsthand. Underserved children have the opportunity to get teeth extractions and other services to improve the overall look and feel of their teeth.
Ultimately, it’s not every day that you see an athlete turn a gruesome injury into a positive that actually ends up helping children around the country. Despite the losses in his personal career after the fateful game against the Brewers, the gains have been much greater.