Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ten Questions with Tom Raffio

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Tom Raffio, CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, and local race extraordinaire. I first met Tom several years ago at a race which would turn out to be his second of the weekend! And that is a typical weekend. When he's not busy with his work, or all of his amazing philanthropic work, you can probably bet he's at a race. Without further ado, here's my interview:

Amber: Tom, thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk with me. You are a running machine! There isn't a race in the New Hampshire area I can go and not see you. Have you always been a runner? 

Tom: Actually, not really. In High School I played what was then the traditional sports (football, basketball and baseball) and I also played baseball in college.  I dabbled a little in running for years, including high school when I wasn’t doing the traditional sports, but I really didn’t get serious as an adult runner until 2003, when I connected with trainer Tom Walton, and began to sign up for races every weekend, and also helped develop and support the Capitol Area Race Series, that now has been going on for 11 years.  I soon realized the running community is filled with really nice people, and a great avenue to also communicate our oral health mission.

Amber(guiltily trying to remember if she flossed this morning, redirects the questioning back to racing): It seems like you are at every race that I go to in the New England area. How many races do you do a year?

Tom:  In 2015 I did 103 documented races, mostly 5ks but also some 10ks, 5 milers and half marathons.   I did 93 races in 2014 and fellow racer David Audet (who does many races every year at elite speeds) said I should  try for the century mark in 2015, so that was my challenge.  In order attain 100+ races, Dave and I needed to do  three January and February race series in  Tewksbury, MA, and also in Peterborough and Nashua.  We did it!

Amber: With racing so often, how do you view each race? 

Tom: At age 59, I always look at racing as process and camaraderie, and that some days you may not just have “it” even with optimal training and sleep.   So, on those days when I’m sore or not feeling well, I simply push through and know that I’m fortunate to be able to run and have fun, regardless of my time.  And, at the end, I get to visit with great running friends who encourage me no matter what my time.

Amber: With all that running, talk a little bit about balancing work and running. 

Tom: I work and I work out, and I love both.  I schedule in work outs (running; cross fit; boxing; racquetball; aerobics) right in my work calendar, and I encourage my employee colleagues at Northeast Delta Dental to do the same.

Amber: In one word, describe yourself. 

Tom: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.   (Just kidding; perhaps go with genuine.)

Amber: Haha. I am more of Song of Music girl myself. Moving on to your work, what do you like best about it? 

Tom: I love my employee colleagues and board members  - so, in short, the people.

Amber: I have heard nothing but good things about Northeast Delta Dental. In one sentence can you tell me about your mission. 

Tom: To be a world-class benefits company that is community focused.

Amber: You and NE Delta Dental seem to be involved in so many races. How many will you be participating in during the 2016 season? 

Tom: The Capital Area Race Series; the NEDD Mount Washington Road Race; the Beach to Beacon; the Millennium Running Series; the Arthritis Jingle Runs; Thanksgiving double (Bow and Bishop Brady), and various other well-known races such as Cigna and the Rock in Race, but my total will be more like 75 as I did more cross training and skiing in Jan and Feb than races.

Amber: 75 races! Amazing! You have had quite an illustrious career, what is one accomplishment are you most proud?

Tom:  Helping to raise four children who have grown into fine young, healthy and educated adults.

Amber: Okay, I've put it off long enough. Tell me about flossing. How often should I really be doing it? 

Tom:  Generally, twice: once at night and once in the morning.  Sometimes a third time (we carry floss in the rest rooms at Delta Dental) if I feel like I need to.  Brushing and flossing in between visits to one’s dentist, plus fluoridated water, are keys to excellent oral health.  And you cannot have good overall health, without good oral health.
Amber: That is true. I've actually several research articles looking at cardiovascular risk factors and saw oral health as one! Okay so now on to more serious matters: What's your favorite Chris Helmsworth movie? 

Tom: Thor[I'm just kidding, the question was: if you could be any super hero, who would you be?]

Amber: Tom thank you so much again for your time and all of the support you and Delta Dental give to the running community. And for the flossing tips! I'm heading home right now to do just that! And I am sure I will see you soon at a race. 

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