Gavin Stevens“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark,” said Helen Keller. Graduating seniors from Ontario’s Dental Hygiene program could not agree more.

Each class gives away $300 of class funds to their favorite dental charity during their Pinning and Awards Ceremony, and this class of twenty-one chose the Gavin R. Stevens Foundation as their recipient. Over 200 attendees, including grad’s families and friends, Dental Hygiene staff and faculty and award recipient attended the ceremony held at the New Life Church in Claremont last month.

Gavin Stevens is a remarkable 5-year old born with a rare genetic retina condition called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, which affects only about 150 people in the entire US. Although, as yet, there is no cure, Gavin’s parents, Troy and Jennifer, are hopeful for the future.

The Stevens family struggles through costs associated with a special needs child, medical treatment and everything that is needed to help their son stretch beyond the confines of his disability. They have a website (gavinsfoundation.org/index.html) that helps to educate others about this genetic retina condition, create awareness and raise funds for research.

The highlight of the Pinning and Awards ceremony was when little Gavin took the stage to sing “It’s a Beautiful Day”. “I was on stage, in the back, so I was able to watch the audience; and to just see everyone light up was so much fun,” says Dr. Leslie Nazaroff, Dental Hygiene Program Director. Gavin’s website shows him singing Andrea Bocelli’s Con te Partiro, a famous Italian opera.

Gavin’s parents are grateful to everyone who supports their hope for treatment “that can one day allow Gavin to see things he never has.”

Dr. Nazaroff emphasizes the importance of Dental Hygiene students participating in philanthropic efforts within their communities. “If we forget the element of our community needs, then we’ve done a disservice to our profession.”

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