La Mesa Dentist Boosts PAL Program

LA MESA -- La Mesa dentist Jeff Gray loves baseball. In fact, at age 52, he still plays on a team in the San Diego Adult Baseball League.

So it’s no surprise that Jeff and Mary Gray decided this year’s “Smiles for Life” annual fundraiser to benefit children’s charities would go to STAR/PAL, a local nonprofit organization and San Diego Chapter of the Police Athletic League. This week, at the STAR/PAL Padres Baseball Camp at Kuhlken Field in La Mesa, the Grays presented a check for $10,000 to the program.

Although the kids participating in the camp were bused in from MCRD, it was officers of the La Mesa Police Department who were on hand at Kuhlken Field to offer instruction in the fine arts of fielding and hitting. Chief Ed Aceves brought his glove and actively participated in the drills.

STAR/PAL brings youths and law enforcement together to build safer communities. The organization offers free youth programming at sites all over San Diego County, holding Chargers Football Camps at local schools and an annual fishing derby at Chollas Lake. For more information, go to

The money was raised through “Smiles for Life,” which has grown from an idea Gray had more than a dozen years ago to be a national program of the more than 800 dentist members of the Crown Council. More than $30 million has been raised by SFL and its affilation with Garth Brooks’ “Teammates” program, which also supports children’s charities.

It works this way: dental patients get their teeth whitened at a discount, and the dentists donates the 100% of the money to the “Smiles for Life.” In recent years, participating dentists have had the option to donate half of what they raise to the national SFL foundation, and half to a local charity of the dentist’s choice. For more information, go to

“This year’s effort was a great success, and we want to thank everyone in the community who participated by having their smiles brightened during the campaign,” said Dr. Gray, whose office is located near the Grossmont Trolley Center in La Mesa. “While it’s rewarding to see the beautiful smiles of our patients after their teeth are whitened – it is even more fulfilling to see the smiles of the children whose lives are changed by these contributions.”

STAR/PAL (Sports Training, Academics, Recreation/Police Athletic League) is a nonprofit organization that provides over 10,000 youth services annually in inner-city neighborhoods throughout the city and county of San Diego. STAR/PAL offers free educational, athletic, and recreational programs which focus on promoting youth safety, positive life choices, and academic success.

STAR/PAL officers from the San Diego Police & County Probation Departments.

“These dedicated officers coordinate unique programs for underserved youth, with the assistance of additional law enforcement and community volunteers,” said Claire O’Leary (in photo above with the Grays), STAR/PAL Partnership and Resource Coordinator. “By bringing youth and law enforcement officers together in this manner, STAR/PAL helps build safer communities in the future.”

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Tags: Dr. Jeff Gray, Ed Aceves, La Mesa Today, La Mesa dentist, La Mesa news, La Mesa newspaper, Police Athletic League


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Comment by chris shea on August 24, 2012 at 2:01pm

I think it's a lovely thing to do.  Cheers!!!

Comment by Mark Robak on August 23, 2012 at 2:58pm

That's awesome!

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