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Opening of New Mobile Dental Van Marked by $250K Gift from Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees

Washington Heights-Born Rodriguez Delights Young Fans, Underscores Need for Good Oral Health in Children

NEW YORK (July 23, 2009) – Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez celebrated the opening of the new Columbia University College of Dental Medicine mobile dental van at an event attended by hundreds of young students today in the Washington Heights community.

Mr. Rodriguez and the University also took the occasion to announce his $250,000 donation in support of Columbia’s Community DentCare programs provided throughout New York City.

The new van will serve the Washington Heights community and surrounding areas, and was parked in front of the school during the celebration. Mr. Rodriguez, or "A-Rod" to adoring fans, christened the van with ceremonial champagne bottle.

Alex Rodriguez addresses a crowd gathered at MS 328 & MS 326

Alex Rodriguez addresses a crowd gathered at MS 328 & MS 326 in Washington Heights to celebrate the opening of the new dental van.
Photo Credit: Eileen Barroso

In addition to Alex Rodriguez, Ira Lamster, Dean of the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, as well as various officials from Columbia University and from local and state office made remarks prior to Mr. Rodriguez taking the stage.

"A winning smile builds confidence and self-esteem that lasts a lifetime," Rodriguez said. "Every child deserves access to regular dental visits and it is reassuring to know that this new dental van will serve nearly 3,000 children in the community where I was born and its surrounding neighborhoods."

Failure to prevent dental diseases has a large effect on school attendance, and it’s estimated that more than 50 million school hours are lost nationally each year due to dental-related illness or care, according the American Dental Association.

“That loss could be sharply reduced with timely receipt of preventive services, and is part of the reason why Alex Rodriguez’ gift, which will be used to expand access to oral health care for children, is so deeply appreciated,” said Dr. Stephen Marshall, the associate dean responsible for Columbia’s Community DentCare.

Columbia’s Community DentCare currently operates programs in seven schools throughout Northern Manhattan, providing oral health education, preventive care, and comprehensive care to children. The new mobile dental van will travel to 65 different locations including Head Starts, Public Schools and Daycare Centers located throughout Washington Heights/Inwood, Harlem, and the Bronx. 


The College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, founded in 1917, is located in northern Manhattan. In addition to providing education programs for pre- and post-doctoral candidates, CDM conducts research in state-of-the-art facilities and oversees an extensive community-based service program for residents in the surrounding community – a federally designated medical and dental manpower shortage area. Outreach into the community includes dental programs in seven area public schools, a dental van, and three off-site community-based dental clinics, providing state-of-the-art care to an underserved population as well as a rich learning environment for students at CDM. Visit us on the web:

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and public health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions.

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