AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - With the help and encouragement from his teacher, a Palo Duro High School junior received free braces from Harwell and Cook Orthodontics.
Through the Smile for a Lifetime Foundation, Francisco Cueto will receive a new smile.
Although Cueto was hesitant at first, he decided to give it a shot after his teacher, Staci Dreessen, encouraged him to apply.
“That’s pretty cool that she acknowledged me like that, you know, and that she was paying attention to me and stuff,” Cueto.
Applicants were required to prove that they could not financially afford braces, submit two letters of recommendation, two photos including their current smile, a copy of the most recent report card and be willing to complete at least 10 hours of community service.
Today at Harwell and Cook Orthodontics in Amarillo, Cueto found out he was one of the lucky students to get free braces.
“I was always self-conscious about my teeth and it made me feel like there was a second-chance for me,” said Cueto. “Because when I was in elementary school, up until high school, I was bullied about it. They, you know, pick on my teeth and stuff.”
However, Cueto does not dwell on the past or what his peers have said about him. Instead, he is focused on the future and believes a new smile will help him achieve his dreams.
“I want to be an attorney and they do get judged on, you know, how they are coming and stuff and if that happens to me and if I see that, I’ll just resort to, ‘Oh, they are talking about my appearance and stuff.’ It is just what I always go for and specifically my teeth,” said Cueto.
Orthodontist Anthony Harwell said a new smile is important because of the confidence it instills.
“There’s a lot of studies that show that a smile is the first thing that you look at and straight teeth have all sorts of influence on jobs, higher levels of educations. But, more importantly than a great presentation and a great influence, but it gives him such self-confidence,” said Harwell.
Now, Cueto is on his way to straight teeth and more confidence, all thanks to the life-changing opportunity from his orthodontist and encouragement from his teacher.