A 14-year-old Penfield girl has a reason to smile! Thanks to a national program, the local teen is receiving free orthodontic treatment. The financial scholarship will provide a life-changing opportunity for the patient.
"I would love not to have to think about this everyday."
Tori Farenholz is a freshman at Penfield High school. She's a straight-A student, a member of the cross country and track teams, but her teeth have kept her from smiling.
"I've been wanting braces for a long time."
Getting braces would be an added expense that Tori's mom couldn't afford, so they decided to apply for help through the Smile For a Lifetime Foundation. The non-profit organization provides orthodontic care to those with financial challenges and special situations.
"Tori has always wanted braces, it hasn't been something that I've been able to reach out to achieve for her," said Lisa Farenholz, her mom.
Just days before Christmas, Lisa got a phone call from the local chapter: her daughter was chosen to receive braces.
"I kept crying and crying with tears of joy, and then they put together a card for her. They asked me to keep it a secret and I presented her the card on Christmas," Lisa said.
"When I opened it, I said to my mom, I'm gonna cry cause I was so excited," said Tori.
Local orthodontist Dr. Terry Giangreco established New York State's first chapter of the Smile for a lifetime foundation two years ago.
"We've had about seven applicants that we've put braces on already and one of the challenges we're having right now, is just getting that out in the community that this is available for families that couldn't normally afford to provide braces for their children," Giangreco said.
The local chapter awards up to two dozen financial scholarships per year for children up to age 18. A couple of references must be provided along with a personal letter that explains why they feel a new smile will help improve their life.
"All of my friends either have braces or have gotten them off. I often feel self-conscious when I laugh or smile," said Tori, reading her letter.
It's words like these that helped local board members make their decision.
"There's so many great kids around Rochester that are so self-conscious about their smile that they don't smile like they normally would. They're whole outlook is different," said Giangreco.
It's hoped that Tori and other patients can help spread the word about the program and how a healthy smile can help boost self-esteem, motivate and change lives.
"Our hope is that when they receive this gift as a smile, that someday they know when they're older, they may see that opportunity to give back to our community as well."
Tori says her time spent in the dental chair, along with about a two-year waiting period, will be well worth it!
"When you take pictures, you don't have to feel embarrassed to smile."
"I'm so excited to get my braces on, and then I'll be even more excited to get them off."