KENT, Wash. – A Kent orthodontist is giving four teens free orthodontic treatment in exchange for them giving back to their community.
Dr. Robert Haeger of Haeger Orthodontics in Kent is donating the service to the teens, all of whom come from low income families in the area.
"Our thought is this will change lives in a big way," Haeger said. "A new smile can open up new doors for kids.”
The teens applied through the Smile for a Lifetime Foundation program, a national non-profit organization. Anna, 19; Ryan, 18; Wyatt, 14; and Reece, 14, will have braces for at least two years.
In exchange, Haeger asks they volunteer for 40 hours of community service.
"It’s what we call pay it forward," he said. "This is our way of giving back.”
Parents say the gift is overwhelming.
"We've taken some hits the last few years, so this is actually a good thing," said Clay Paladin, Reece's dad. "It’s like this came down from somewhere above.”
Haeger estimates the cost of treatment is about $6,500 per teen. He hopes to expand the program and add additional patients this year depending on community support and donations.
It’s the start of a fulfilling but painful process for the teens.
"I'm a wrestler, so this may make it a little hard," said Wyatt. "That's OK. I’ll just have to get better so I don't get hit."