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Outside, families were splashing around in the sun as the sound system at Osborn Aquatic Center cheerily played a mix of Latin pop songs and Top 20 hits.

But inside, was the event’s core: low income people were able to get free health and dental screenings from providers who spoke English and Spanish.

Araceli Mendes, a Benton County health navigator, said the Campeones de Salud event, Champions of Health in English, was held for the 12th time Sunday to carry on the event’s tradition of connecting people to health care.

“It’s meant to create a bilingual and inclusive environment for low income families to get health care,” she said.

Mendes said the event takes about $14,000 to put on, and last year drew about 1,250 people, about 60 of whom got health screenings.

Mendes said Benton County Health Services partners with Corvallis Parks and Recreation, the Oregon Health Authority and Community Health Centers of Benton and Linn Counties to put on the event. It also had more than 30 organizations with information booths and free food.

Mendes, who works out of Corvallis schools to help connect children and their families to health resources, added that if people need more care than they can get at the event, county health navigators would sit down with them to help connect them to services available for low income people.

“We put this on so people get screened, but it doesn’t stop there,” she said.

Mendes said Sunday was the second time the event has been held at Osborn, before that it was a soccer tournament at the Crystal Lake Sports Fields. That event’s attendance had begun to flag through the years, she said, so they moved to Osborn because it is more centrally located in Corvallis. And that helped; in three hours at last year’s event the medical providers did more screenings in three hours than in the three day soccer tournament the previous year.

Maria Esperanza Fragoso, of Corvallis, got a health screening at the event. Through a translator, she said getting health care through the event means a lot to her because she is struggling financially.

“I’m thankful they have these resources here now,” she said.

Anthony Rimel covers education and can be reached at, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.



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