By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Photo by JOE LUMAYA/October 18, 2014/Ventura County Star

Hundreds run to raise funds for dental care

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - Dressed for the part, participants by the hundreds ran to help fund dental care for needy kids during Saturday’s fourth annual 5k/10k Tooth Fairy Fun Run to benefit the Free Clinic of Simi Valley.

Among them were Harry and Marilyn Van Dyck, who proudly donned fairy wings and head bands with rainbow-colored antennas for the event, which also will help fund the clinic’s medical, counseling and legal services.

“It’s just one of those organizations that we have a passion for,” said Harry Van Dyck, 65, of Simi Valley, a member of the clinic’s board of directors.

He noted that the clinic provides services for anyone, regardless of ability to pay.

“We’re lucky. We get looked at; we get checked,” he said. “But with the state of health insurance and even with Obamacare, there are people out there who just don’t get seen by doctors, and they need to be.”

The event, presented in partnership with Simi Valley Hospital, kicked off in the morning at the Simi Valley Town Center mall with a fun run followed by a daylong health and fitness expo with more than three dozen vendors.

“We did the 4k,” joked Harry Van Dyck, who wore socks decorated with flying pigs.

“He’ll run when pigs fly — that was the idea behind the socks when I bought them,” his wife said.

Fred Bauermeister, the clinic’s executive director, called Saturday’s event a “win-win situation.”

“We’re getting people out exercising. We have vendors here providing services all for free. We have a great crowd and great beautiful weather — what could be better?” Bauermeister said.

He said the clinic, a nonprofit charitable organization, depends on fundraisers and donations to survive.

“Our services help folks in the community, and our major fundraiser, which this is, makes that possible,” Bauermeister said.

Saturday’s vendors included Cory Hacker, of West Hills, an “independent damsel pro” with Damsel in Defense, a direct-sales company that specializes in personal-protection products designed especially for women, including pink stun guns and aqua blue self-defense tools that can be used as keychain fobs.

“Most women don’t know where to purchase things like this; some women feel uncomfortable going into gun stores or gun shows, so we bring the store to them,” Hacker said. “Our whole mission is to equip, empower and educate women on how to be safe when they’re out there in the world living their everyday lives.”

Vendor Jennie Hoffman, pre-hospital care coordinator for Simi Valley Hospital, volunteered to give free CPR demonstrations after running the 5k.

“I did the 5k because I need to practice what we preach and have good heart health,” said Hoffman, of Simi Valley. “We can’t be out here telling you guys what to do without practicing it ourselves.”

The clinic desperately needs funding, said Christina Lindsey-Orta, of Moorpark, who ran the 10k with her dog, Rusty, and whose father serves on the clinic’s board of directors.

“There are a lot of underprivileged families ... and they need some of these services,” she said. “This is a great cause because it helps those in need.”

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