There were many big smiles and no dentistry drills in sight Saturday with Elyria dentist Scott Nagy and his team.
Nagy and his practice took the day off to put on the charity event “Kids’ Dream Day on the Bay” at Battery Park Marina in Sandusky.
Sponsored by Nagy’s newly formed foundation, the Scott Nagy DDS Foundation, Saturday was its own mini-festival thrown exclusively for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lorain County and the Murray Ridge Workshop in Elyria.
“I wanted to do something specifically to give back to people in Lorain County, who might not otherwise get to experience this kind of fun,” Nagy said. “I wanted to focus on planting that positive seed for the kids and showing the developmentally disabled folks a good time.”
Nagy invited those groups, totaling about a hundred people, plus a group of friends and volunteers, to a party in the park, running 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event was replete with hot dogs and hamburgers, a blow-up tent, games, prizes and a DJ spinning the afternoon away.
The Hefster family of volunteers took a lunch break in the shade of the tent.
“We’re so glad we came, it’s a really awesome event,” said Reggie Hefster, a patient of Nagy’s. “It’s great to see these kids smiling.”
“We brought our kids to the event, too, so they could give back to the community and get a feel of what it’s like to help out people,” said Hefster’s wife, Jill. “Right now, though, our daughter’s giving back by sitting down and eating a hamburger.”
Temperatures were in the high 80s and low 90s throughout the morning, but a breeze by the lake kept things cool for everyone, and the forecasted rain didn’t seem like it would ever come.
What was the big event for most folks? The speedboat rides around Lake Erie, passing by Cedar Point.
“I started out the day taking the first group on a boat ride, and one of the guys just kept shouting, ‘This is awesome,’ over and over,” Nagy said. “All of these months of planning and this early morning all became worth it in that one moment for me. That was the highlight of the day, by far.”
Nagy, who grew up boating with his family in Vermilion, was thrilled at the opportunity to bring his passion to a group of people who normally might not have this opportunity.
“This is such a great event for us, because this is something our members can actually do; they’re participating just as well as anyone could, and loving every minute of it,” said B.J. Winkelman, who works with the recreation team at Murray Ridge.
Big Sister Diana Hearn of Sandusky agreed.
“This is not something that my girls get to do very often, be out on the water,” she said of her two little sisters in tow.
Nagy approached officials at Battery Park Marina earlier this year about the feasibility of holding an event such as this and was thrilled with the response.
“They were so good about it,” Nagy said. “They were like, ‘Just let us know what you’re doing and what you need, and we’ll help out in any way that we can.’ ”
For Nagy, who grew up in Elyria, Lorain County has always held a special place in his heart. After attending The Ohio State University and living with his wife in Columbus for a couple of years, he returned to Elyria to establish his practice, now in its 18th year.
But always “having a heart for the community,” Nagy started to hold brainstorming sessions during staff meetings for ways to give back to the community.
“It all started a couple of years ago, with the Halloween candy buyback, and that started a little spark of different things that we could do for the community,” Nagy said.
In the candy buyback, kids are given $1 for every pound of candy they bring in from that year’s Halloween hoard.
But what Nagy really wanted was to support kids who couldn’t afford dental care by offering his services for free. In order to do that, he created the foundation.
“The most important part for me was to make this exclusive to kids in Lorain County,” Nagy said. “I really wanted to be able to give back to the place where I grew up, and specifically target the people here who needed help that I could provide.
Nagy filed for the foundation to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in the spring of 2010. Almost exactly a year later, the Scott Nagy DDS Foundation was finalized.
Nagy said he hopes the organization will flourish.
“I just want this to be bigger and better next year,” he said. “This was just the test run, and it’s already turned out so well.”
Contact Emily Kennedy at 329-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.