JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - MacArthur Junior High School student Tegan Gillenwater can't wait to get her braces off. But, just two years ago, she couldn't wait to get them put on.
"I was really happy because I used to get made fun of because of my smile," Gillenwater said. "I got really happy because of my braces."
Gillenwater was selected to receive her braces free-of-charge, thanks to Smile for a Lifetime, NEA Chapter.
Smile for a Lifetime Foundation is a national organization founded by Jonesboro orthodontist, Dr. Benjamin Burris. It provides orthodontic care to individuals who may not otherwise have the opportunity to acquire assistance.
"We are looking for applicants all of the time," said Pamela Haun, President of the Board of Directors of Smile for a Lifetime. "We would love to have applicants at any point."
An application form can be found at http://smileforalifetimenea.org/application/.
"The family income cannot exceed 185 percent of the poverty level," Haun said. "They need to be between the ages of 11 to 19. We are constantly looking for applicants."
Launched in 2008, Smile for a Lifetime aims to reach individuals with financial challenges, special situations, and orthodontic needs. The foundation in Northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel sponsors the orthodontic care of 36 new patients each year.
The Foundation Board meets every quarter to select nine new scholarship winners.
The group is hopeful that an upcoming fundraiser at Hijinx in Jonesboro will raise more money for installation of braces.
" Hijinx has been great to help us with this fundraiser," Haun said. "They can come in and apply for braces," Haun said. "They have to have references and things of that nature. We would be glad to help them get started."
"I have had my braces on for two years," said Gillenwater as she smiled. "They'll come off soon. I'm so excited!"
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