By Kathryn Kickliter, For the AJC
Last year was like no other. The pandemic showed the world many things. Testaments of resilience, acts of kindness and what matters became the focus for many of us.
Entering their fifth year, the footprint of the Georgia School of Orthodontics continues to expand beyond academics and affordable orthodontic care with their third community program, “Gift of a Smile Heroes.”
The school’s first two programs, Gift of a Smile and Purple Heart Smiles, focuses on children and over $150,000 in complimentary braces has been provided to deserving children.
GSO pledged $100,000 for their new initiative. A way to honor those who have stepped up during this challenging time, said Chairman and President, Board of Trustees Dr. Randy Kluender. “It is dedicated toward adults because many times they get left out of the picture,” he said. “You know a lot of the focus is on kids so we are really excited about the opportunity to provide free orthodontic or Invisalign care to adults who have given back to their community.
“The timing is intentional with the pandemic,” Kluender said “The need is so great and when individuals have lost their jobs or have a reduction in their income they can’t afford orthodontic care, so it is really critical that we recognize those individuals during this time.”
Seven adults will be awarded the Gift of a Smile Heroes. The launch will announce the first four exemplary recipients on March 26, followed by the selection of one deserving hero each quarter.
“We are looking for individuals that necessarily haven’t taken care of themselves when they’ve given to others,” said the chairman. “It could be a poll worker, a working mother, a fireman … anyone who gives back … as a good deed doer. This could be a life-changing experience for someone.
“We (GSO) want to be a role model for our residents to show them how wonderful it is to identify individuals selected based on merit and provide that care. Those people are so grateful to receive that care that they are in tears. It is that emotional,” he said.
Eligibility requirements: a Georgia resident, live in metro Atlanta and be 18 years or older.
The deadline to propose a deserving hero is March 15.
For nominations, submit a compelling hero story and a “smile” photo. Go to the school’s website https://www.bracestoday.com/hero and fill out the form.
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