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Making a Difference: Serving a need that is close to the heart

Titletown Dental donates AEDs to local businesses in community

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February 6, 2024

ASHWAUBENON — For many businesses that choose to give back to their community, the focus often aligns with the business’ values — hitting close to home for its owners and/or employees.

This is the case for Sam Schmidt, dentist and owner of Titletown Dental.

After working as a dentist in other practices for many years, Schmidt said the idea of opening his own practice was always in the back of his mind.

However, it wasn’t until he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in late 2020 — a condition that affects the left ventricle, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber — that he said he decided to make the leap and open his own practice.

“I got my diagnosis randomly,” he said. “Here I am thinking I’m perfectly healthy, and I’m not. I was almost a ticking time bomb. (I thought) ‘now’s the time. Let’s do this.'”

Schmidt said Titletown Dental, located at 2664 Oneida St., Suite 104 in Ashwaubenon, opened in January 2022.

Finding a ‘give’
Schmidt said he opened his practice through the guidance of Ideal Practices — a consulting business that helps dental startups.

As part of the process, he said Ideal Practices stresses the importance of giving back.

“They want every new practice to have a ‘give,'” he said. “And when I first read about it, I was like, ‘well, I don’t know what my give would be.'”

As he considered how Titletown Dental could give back, Schmidt said he soon realized the answer was all around him.

“Here I was walking into Potbelly’s, or any random store, and if they didn’t have an AED — and I went down — I would have died because (HCM) is an electrical issue,” he said. “It’s not a heart attack. Every minute you don’t have an AED and restart the heart electrically, your chance of survival goes down 10%.”

AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, Schmidt said are portable electronic devices that can treat cardiac arrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia through defibrillation — which allows the heart to re-establish a normal rhythm.

“There’s this huge misconception that (someone) like me going down would have been (having) a heart attack,” he said. “That’s not at all what it (would be). I think AEDs are much more important than people realize — they are lifesaving.”

Most hospitals, schools and gyms have an AED, but “not your random mom-and-pop shop” or fast food chains, which Schmidt said people tend to frequent.

Recognizing the lack of AEDs around the Greater Green Bay area, Schmidt said he knew he wanted Titletown Dental to be able to provide those businesses and organizations with an AED that could potentially save someone else’s life as well.

“(The idea) fell in our lap,” he said. “It hits home and makes it a bit more important for me to do it.”

Focus and fundraising
Since 2022, Titletown Dental has donated six AEDs to the following businesses:

CrossFire FitnessLiteracy Green BayOdyssey Climbing + FitnessGreen Bay Action Sports OrganizationEvergreen TheaterYou Belong
When looking at which businesses or organizations to donate to, Schmidt said Titletown Dental focuses on places where many people go often, start-up small businesses and places where someone’s heart rate is up — such as a gym like CrossFire Fitness.

Since 2022, Titletown Dental has donated six AEDs to local businesses and organizations, Odyssey Climbing + Fitness being one of them. Photo Courtesy of Titletown Dental

“They were a newer gym, and I think that one hit home for me most because- I was working out hard, and I was pushing myself harder because I thought I was out of breath and not in enough shape when in reality it was (that) my heart wasn’t pumping good enough,” he said. “I was pushing myself to the brink of probably having an episode.”

Gyms are not legally required to have an AED on hand, but Schmidt said “they should.”

“Funds-wise, it wasn’t in the budget (for CrossFire Fitness) to have an AED right away,” he said. “So, we reached out, and they were excited about (receiving) one.”

Schmidt said Titletown Dental also looks to help nonprofits in the community, like You Belong, which strives to create an environment where people of all abilities have a place to grow.

The organization recently opened The Adventure Zone, an accessible play and learning center for youth with varying abilities.

To raise funds to purchase and donate AEDs to these local community spaces, Schmidt said Titletown Dental sets aside a percentage of money from every new patient, and each month reviews how close the team is to purchasing another AED.

“At the rate we’ve been getting new patients, it takes us three to four months (to save up for an AED),” he said.

The dentistry clinic recently brought on a new dentist, so Schmidt said he hopes to see an influx of patients and donate five AEDs this year.

Benefits all around
When it’s time for Titletown Dental to donate another AED, Schmidt said it’s important to him that as much of the team can be there as possible.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It creates team camaraderie.”

Giving back, Schmidt said, also allows for the team to become more integrated with the community.

Sam Schmidt said he hopes to have Titletown Dental donate five AEDs in the community this year. Photo Courtesy of Titletown Dental

“You get to see behind the scenes a little bit and learn — especially about these nonprofits,” he said. “You would never know certain things about them- It’s not just (about giving them) an AED — we benefit (from it). We get to be more part of the community, and I know people I didn’t know before.”

For other businesses that are looking to give back, Schmidt said “it’s rewarding and worth it,” but it’s important to give to a cause that is important to them.

“If you’re just doing it to do it, I’m not sure if it makes any sense because (it may be hard to) keep doing it,” he said. “You have to find something that hits home and be all in on it.”

Over the coming months, Titletown Dental will be changing its name and signage over to Dental Studio 920.

To learn more about Titletown Dental, follow its Facebook page.

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