Educating the public about sun safety served as the catalyst for two local organizations to form a unique alliance.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas and Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada (CCCN) are combining forces for a third straight summer season to provide free sun screen to all water park guests.
“It’s the first of its kind in Las Vegas,” said Dr. James Sanchez, CCCN practice president and a medical oncologist. “It’s been very successful.”
The two launched a campaign in 2014 in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of applying and reapplying sun screen to avoid developing skin cancer.
“We really care about safety and the well-being of our guests,” said Wet ‘n’ Wild’s General Manager Takuya Ohki. “So we wanted to do something different as a way to educate them on sun protection.”
The idea for a free sun screen promotion was initiated by Ohki, who was inspired by a similar promotion implemented at Holiday World in Indiana.
“It fits in nicely because one of our biggest messages is guest safety and guest experience,” said Lindy Frye, Wet ‘n’ Wild’s marketing manager. “We get to provide something free to our guests — which is not normal in the business world. It’s a positive program and one thing we can do to show them we care.”
Ohki further believes the program generates enough goodwill to create repeat customers.
“Ensuring our guests are happy increases the likelihood of returning to our park and encouraging family and friends to join in the fun,” said Ohki. “I know what’s it like to raise kids and I wanted to look for ways to help stretch their budget. Providing free sunscreen is one way we make summer fun affordable.”
Frye said that the organizations share the cost evenly, an estimated $10,000 a season each.
“Since we launched, it has trickled out to other water parks,” Frye said. “It’s such a great partnership.”
The partnership inspired CCCN’s collaboration with the Las Vegas 51s baseball team to offer free sunscreen during all day games. CCCN’s Arizona location also has a free sunscreen partnership with a local zoo.
The two organizations were brought together by Wet ‘n’ Wild’s previous public relations firm Purdue Marion &Associates who knew CCCN was looking for a way to get involved in the community.
“We thought this would be a good opportunity for our group to be involved and help do something that was preventative,” Sanchez said. He believes CCCN benefits from the partnership by generating name awareness in the community. “The general public doesn’t view cancer doctors giving back to the public. So we would like to be more proactive and show that we are not just simply here to take care of our patients.”
Sanchez said CCCN sees about 550 cases of skin cancer and melanoma each year across its 15 treatment centers.
“Skin cancer is very prevalent here,” Sanchez said. “We’re living in an area where we have more than 300 days of sunlight. The more sunlight exposure, the more risk of skin cancer.”
Besides offering free sunscreen, signage throughout the park and announcements given every hour remind guests to reapply the sunscreen.
“We’re really not in the market of trying to get new business,” Sanchez said. “We would rather do something that was good to give back to the community. If we could prevent a single person from developing cancer, that would help not only with their health but the cost of health care.”
“One of the most effective ways in reducing the cost of healthcare is by education,” Sanchez continued. “Many of the diseases we see are often self-inflicted.”
The 30 SPF waterproof broad spectrum sun screen is offered at a special kiosk just inside the park’s gate. According to Ohki, Wet ‘n’ Wild goes through a gallon of sunscreen a day.
“The guests love it,” Frye said. “They all flock over there to the kiosk and just keep coming back.”
Last year, a hashtag promotion was added asking guests to submit selfies using the sunscreen kiosk. Frye randomly selects a winner from the selfies submitted and rewards them with prizes such as a free drink or a Wet ‘n’ Wild promotional item.
“That is another piece of the partnership,” Frye said. “Taking a sunscreen selfie spreads awareness.”
This year, the outreach is expanding to the younger demographic with a coloring contest for children ages 12 and younger.
“Each year we’re trying to do new things to spread skin safety awareness,” Frye said. “I’m getting the kids involved and teaching them at a younger age how you need to protect your skin.”
Coloring sheets are available at the park’s gift shop or to download from Wet ‘n’ Wild’s website. Completed entries can be turned in at the park.
Winners will be selected on a bi-weekly basis.