The Pueblo West View

Summer run helps Pueblo residents

It took more than 10 years for Levi Murray and his wife Barbara to develop a plan to help those who couldn’t afford expensive oral and mental care.

Murray took place in a 5k earlier this year with the intentions of simply enjoying yet another race. Shortly after the run, the D.D.S realized he could utilize a similar method to do what he enjoys most: putting smiles on the faces of his clients.

The inaugural Mental/Dental 5k Run was born and takes place Saturday in front of West Mountain Dental’s office off Purcell Boulevard.

Several people in Pueblo struggle to afford the benefits of dental as well mental health care. Those who didn’t have the necessary means for a trip to the dentist were treated in March to a day of free exams and more.

“We helped over 70 patience and we donated over $20,000 worth of dentistry,” said Marketing Director Melanie Murrain. “This is something we’d like to more than once a year. One free dental day is nowhere near enough.”

Mental care is just as problematic to afford. Last year 27 licensed and insured therapists did 900 hours of free counseling in Pueblo to assist those who were unable to pick up the bill. There are also various support groups, including one for little girls who had been sexually assaulted.

Pro Bono Coordinator for South Eastern Colorado Betty Nufer helped bring the program to Pueblo in 2011. It has provided various options of mental help for Puebloans since making the move, despite having limited space to work.

“We ask our therapist to commit to work with individuals for six to 10 sessions,” Nufer said. “We have several organizations in Pueblo that have donated office space for us. If our therapists work in a certain organization, they’re not able, because of liability, to volunteer work. So we have places that donate office space for us.”

Murrain said that they hope to raise $5,000. The expected funds will go to Mental Health America of Colorado to help those in need of mental health services, and Destiny from the Heart, a non-profit organization offering free dental work to people in financial need. Should the Mental/Dental 5k raise the money expected, each organization will receive $2,500.

Adults can walk or run at the event for just $25. Children are also welcome and parents can pay just $10 for their child to participate in a 1k event. Kids receive medals for participation while the top male and female runners receive awards. Visit westmountaindental.com for more information regarding race details.

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