For the Chiefs December 16 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the Chiefs selected Dr. Bill Busch, creator and co-founder of TeamSmile, to be honored as the Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion. Prior to kickoff, Dr. Busch received on-field recognition and conducted the ceremonial first pass to Chris Bober before touring the Chiefs broadcast booth and enjoying the game.
Serving in private practice since 1991, Dr. Busch founded TeamSmile in the mid-2000s to serve as a non-profit organization in which dental professionals and pro athletes would team up to provide free, top-notch dental care to underserved children in the Kansas City area. Now, more than a decade later, TeamSmile has held almost 150 programs, served more than 25,000 children and provided more than $15 million in free dental care and oral health education in Kansas City and select communities around the country.
"In areas where economic hardship is at its highest, oral health care is not seen as a priority," said Dr. Busch, who came to Kansas City from New York for his residency nearly 30 years ago and decided to make it his home. "The people of Kansas City have given me the opportunity to practice what I love in a city that I love. That being said, I wanted to help the underserved in a big way; hence, TeamSmile was born."
Dr. Busch's first step in pursuing his dream was to contact the Kansas City Chiefs. His proposal was to host a one-day event to help children in KC get access to free dental care. The Chiefs agreed and paired Dr. Busch with punter Dustin Culquitt as an ambassador. On this day, more than 100 children were screened, treated and educated on the importance of oral health.
That initial event has now turned into an annual outreach program supported by the Kansas City Chiefs. And TeamSmile itself has evolved from an event-driven concept to a formal nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of professional sports teams to draw at-risk children into their first contact with dental care.
"The work we do is immediate and has a tremendous, positive impact on children's lives that can last their whole lifetime," said Dr. Busch. "I believe that everyone should have the chance to smile with confidence, regardless of their socioeconomic background."
In addition to being a "die-hard" Chiefs fan, Dr. Busch also is a longtime Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City provider, both as a dentist and as a medical provider for sleep apnea and TMJ disorders.
"We are proud of the work Dr. Busch is doing through TeamSmile and the impact he is making on the communities we serve," said Christina Lively, Blue KC's Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "He is providing life-changing dental care and instruction to children in their communities who otherwise wouldn't have access to this level of care. We want to thank Dr. Busch for his years of service and in a small way say thank you through the Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion platform." To nominate a local hero like Dr. Bill Busch to be recognized as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion, visit chiefs.com/bluekc.