Feet for Fillings:
- Co-Founder and President of the Board of Directors
The idea of starting a non-profit came to me one day while shadowing my dentist. During my time spent observing the field of dentistry, I realized that many people lack adequate dental health. A few days after shadowing my dentist I was watching a documentary about climbing Mt. Everest and noticed that some of the climbers were taking pictures with logos on the summit of the mountain. After doing some research I found out that the companies the logos belonged to had financially sponsored the climbers to help them reach their goal. The idea of hiking to raise money for a non-profit and the name Feet for Fillings came to me simultaneously. The rest is history.
- Studying Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado
- Research Assistant in Dr. John Pellegrino’s Laboratory
- Writing and Reading
- Playing Guitar
I peered out of my bedroom window one summer evening in 1997. I was four years old, and eager to see if any of the neighborhood kids were outside playing. Scanning the sidewalks and driveways of all the houses in my cul-de-sac with no luck, disappointment set in, as I realized I would have to entertain myself the rest of the day.
Just before turning my back to the world outside, I caught a glimpse of something moving.
“Maybe a friend!” I thought to myself as I pushed my nose against the cool glass.
I could tell it was someone on a bike, which made me jealous; all of my friends and I thought riding a bike with only two wheels was cool and for big kids. Up until that moment no one my age knew how to ride a bike without training wheels.
The figure came closer as they approached my house. I opened my window, and to my amazement, it was my friend on the bike!
Closer and closer she rode, until she cruised right up to my house, steering herself straight up my driveway where she began doing circles, almost provoking me to come outside and see what she had learned to do. Needless to say my dad took my training wheels off for the first time when he got home from work that night.
I did not learn to ride my bike right away that summer night, and falling was a frequent occurrence. As day turned to night, bedtime came and went, as I tried countless times to keep my balance without my father’s assistance. I was scared at times, and wanted to quit, but the reward of learning to ride my bike far outweighed the risk of falling or failing.
Over and over my dad held on to the back of my bicycle seat as I pedaled and propelled myself forward. When I got up to a decent speed and gave him the O.K., he would slowly release his grip, sending me down the street where I would inevitably wobble to the ground. I remember looking at my scraped up hands, which were one of the only spots on my body exposed from the shin guards, knee guards, elbow guards and helmet. My Dad offered his support, and said we could come back the next day to try some more, but I was having none of that.
Once again I boarded the bike with my Dad holding onto the seat. As we gained some momentum, I promptly asked my Dad about my technique; something along the lines of whether I should be pedaling when he let go or not. After a second or two with no response I turned my head backwards to ask him again. To my surprise he was about 50 feet back cheering me on!
“I’m riding my bike!” I thought to myself…
Smack! I lost my balance and crashed straight into the pavement once again. It didn’t bother me though. I hopped back onto the bike and began cruising around the block. The happiness my dad and I shared was wonderful. I rode circles around him as we both smiled and laughed with joy.
* * *
This memory is one of my oldest and most cherished, and I can derive several of my life’s greatest lessons from the experience: never be afraid to be ambitious; know that in life you will fall down, and sometimes it will hurt, but with hard work, perseverance, and the support of family, you can achieve anything you set your mind to; and hold memories with the people you care about most tight, as they are your most valuable possessions.