Pryor native Dr. Ron Lamb was presented with the American Dental Association’s Humanitarian Award for 2012.
Lamb accepted his award at the ADA’s 153rd Convention in San Francisco, Calif.
Lamb was honored by the ADA for providing dental care for the needy in third world countries.
The ADA humanitarian award has been presented since 2007 to dentists who have spent at least 10 years of their careers working to alleviate human suffering, demonstrating leadership, serving as an inspiration to others and establishing an ongoing legacy that is of value to those in the United States and abroad.
“It was obvious that his actions are a result of a true love for his fellow man,” said ADA President Dr. William Calnon
Lamb said he was surprised at the news he had been chosen for the award. “I thought maybe he was calling about a volunteer project. I never expected to hear that I’d won the ADA Humanitarian Award. It’s a wonderful honor,” he said.
Lamb received a $5,000 donation from the ADA for his non-profit, World Dental Relief.
Lamb started helping the less fortunate as a teenager. He was a church missionary in Monterrey, Mexico. It was there he saw people picking through trash for scraps of food. This left a strong impression on him.
A 1965 graduate of Pryor High School and a member of the first graduating class of Oral Roberts University in 1969, Lamb went to dental school at the University of Louisville. When he graduated in 1974, Lamb opened his dental practice in Broken Arrow.
He began making between six and 11 mission trips a year to Mexico. In 1985, Lamb expanded his mission reach to South America. In 1991, Lamb closed his Broken Arrow practice to work full-time as a dental missionary.
“We had just paid out of debt, had no savings, but wanted to try doing mission work for a solid year without the practice. We were going to depend on donations and if we made it one year, then we would do a second and a third year. If we made it three years living on donations, then we would not go back into private practice. We cut the financial lifelines of our private practice and it was a risk. But we have completed our 20th year of full-time service. Altogether, we have been doing this sort of work for 35 years,” Lamb said.
Lamb has been to 86 countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. Through his charitable organization, World Dental Relief, he has provided 5,291 medical and dental teams along with $15 million of supplies.
Lamb said his favorite mission trips are floating on the Amazon River in South America with a friend who is a retired Navy Seal, and going from village to village working on the teeth of the people who live there.
The result of his efforts have led to supplying 62 charity dental clinics and five prosthetic labs around the world. He has a warehouse in Broken Arrow for supplies to be shipped to the third world.
Lamb said he provides equipment when he knows of a specific need. World Dental Relief has helped respond to disasters such the 2004 tsunami in the south Pacific, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
Recently, Lamb returned from Ethiopia where he attended the first graduation class of a dental school he helped found. He asked the students at the school if any of them had been to the dentist before. None of them had. He said only half of them had a toothbrush.
Lamb said in Ethiopia today there are 61 dentists for a population of 85 million. The dentistry school is an abbreviated two-year program, teaching basic dentistry. He said he hopes to eventually make it an advanced four-year program.
Lamb was honored by ORU in 2002 as the outstanding biology alum and in 2004 as the outstanding alum.