Danielle Piquette 2015-07-31 00:18:51
The Academy’s commitment to increasing skin cancer awareness involves a keen awareness of the need for more public education. Partnering with institutions with large public attendance is a natural fit. So when the American Academy of Dermatology donated a brand new shade structure to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, it provided an ideal opportunity to partner with the zoo and reach their visitors—not to mention offering them that much-sought-after shade. After nearly three years of hard work, members of the Academy, the zoo, and the professional dermatology community were pleased to announce that visitors of the outdoor sea lion exhibit would officially be protected from the sun, thanks to funding from the Academy. The AAD has already been stepping up its efforts to increase awareness of sun safety with the public and the zoo by providing visitors with both shade and education. No matter what the cause may be, it is ever-inspiring to see how people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise can come together to achieve a common goal. Exposure to the sun is something that affects not only people, but animals as well, which is why members of various organizations came together to celebrate the Zoo’s newest addition. For this special event, the AAD hosted a diverse guest list to interact with the public, including congressional staff members, the deputy surgeon general, Academy leadership, local DC dermatologists, a Major League maven, and some true zoo luminaries, among others. “We at the Zoo are proud to take action around this issue and to inspire our audience to protect themselves from harmful UV rays,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “Protective shade is equally important for our guests as it is for the animals.” Bob Lamb, executive director of Friends of the National Zoo, punctuated this by stating, “This structure, which shades the 250-person amphitheater, will protect thousands of families a year from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays while they sit and watch the Zoo’s expert animal care staff train with the sea lions.” Others that were recognized during the celebration were members of the sea lion exhibit, their engineering team, boardcertified dermatologist, Suzanne Olbricht, MD—who personally raised thousands of dollars for the cause—and Anton Smith, owner of Southern Shade Structures. Dr. Olbricht shared how she has been personally dedicated to the cause since the idea came to fruition back in 2012. That year, she used her birthday to ask family and friends to give donations instead of gifts, and raised more than $9,000, to which she added her own sizeable donation. Mark Lebwohl, MD, president of the Academy, gave special recognition to Dr. Olbricht for her vision and passion that made the shade structure a reality. “From her personal generosity, to her willingness to raise funds, to asking for donations in lieu of gifts at her own birthday party, Suzanne has shown a high commitment and continues to be an advocate for public access to shade.” Dr. Olbricht paid tribute to this recognition by sharing how the new shade structure was personally an ‘incredibly rewarding’ experience for her. “It’s a wonderful example of how dedicated individuals and organizations can work together to protect families from the sun and teach healthy sun habits.” Dr. Lebwohl also spoke about the Play Sun Smart program, which partners with the Major League Baseball Association to raise awareness about skin cancer, and provide detection for players, staff, and fans. Commissioner Emeritus of Baseball, Bud Selig, was also recognized for his seventeen years of work with the program, and the ability to raise skin cancer awareness in the baseball community with enormous success. If you’re in our Nation’s Capital and visiting the National Zoo, be sure to head to the American Trail Amphitheatre, opposite the sea lion pool to see the AAD-funded shade structure. Vision of a Leader Past president, Roger Ceilley, MD, knew that accessible playgrounds with sun safety structures were a critical place for the Academy to focus. So during his tenure in 1997, Dr. Ceilley spearheaded a volunteer effort to create such a place. AAD members came together in New York to build a playground protected by a shade structure on Staten Island. The idea caught on and laid the groundwork for the AAD Shade Structure Grant Program to become an official program of the AAD in 2000. Thanks to Dr. Ceilley’s vision, more than 325 structures have been built around the country to date, shading more than 600,000 individuals each day.
Published by American Academy Of Dermatology. View All Articles.