Springfield's Tooth Truck has offered free care to children in need. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

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Officials with Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks on Monday announced a fundraising milestone for a high school all-star football game. 

The Sertoma Grin Iron Classic, organized by the Heart of the Ozarks Sertoma Club, raised more than $1 million in its 22-year history. That money has been used to operate the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile of the Ozarks, a mobile dental office nicknamed the “Tooth Truck.”

2023 marked the final year of the football game, which featured southwest Missouri's best high school football graduating seniors playing one last time under the lights in Springfield.

The Heart of the Ozarks Sertoma Club celebrated the football game clearing the $1 million fundraising mark with an announcement June 17, 2024.

“The Tooth Truck has been blessed exponentially by the Classic and everyone who made the event possible over the past 22 years,” said Bonnie Keller, president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks. “Not only have the sponsors, volunteers, and supporters helped us keep the Tooth Truck on the road, it’s been a privilege to be the beneficiary of this all-star high school football game for southwest Missouri.”

A Weller Elementary student leaves class for a few minutes and catches an animated film while having her teeth cleaned. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

Keller said the Tooth Truck has helped 31,434 at-risk children get more than $22.5 million in dental services, including sealants and hygiene education.

Heart of the Ozarks Sertoma partnered with Ronald McDonald House and the Southwest High School Football Coaches Association to present the game each summer. 

The Tooth Truck operates Monday-Friday, throughout the year. When school is on break for the summer, the truck visits sites such as Great Circle, Boys and Girls Clubs and Salvation Army. The mobile dentistry unit operates off of community donations and Missouri Medicaid reimbursements.

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or jhadsall@hauxeda.com. More by Joe Hadsall