Being a kid is rough sometimes. Learning to cope with hardship at home, emotions, peers, and everything else that comes with growing up can suck. You know what else sucks? Bullying.
Five years ago, Evan Hill of Christchurch, New Zealand, was getting treated poorly at school due to his looks. Specifically, he was being bullied for having buck teeth. If you can remember back to your own childhood, then you can probably relate to seeing this type of cruelty. If you’re a parent, then you can probably empathize with the pain.
Evan was picked on for years, and spoke on camera about being teased and called “bunny rabbit”. His mom shared how the 12-year-old didn’t even want to go outside to play because of the mocking. If that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, his parents couldn’t afford the costs of orthodontic work and were thinking of mortgaging their home.
At the time, the family was facing financial difficulties and back-to-back hardships. They didn’t even possess a car. A caring neighbor contacted a local news outlet to see what could be done to help the child. With the severity of Evan’s case, the costs would be fairly high. Orthodontist Ronald Sluiter called it one of the worst cases he’d ever seen.
Evan’s story spread throughout New Zealand and hit people in their hearts. Fellow Kiwis donated funds to the tune of $100,000 New Zealand dollars to help the young boy. During the last five years, Dr. Sluiter has been working with Evan to fix his teeth. Extensive dental work that included braces and regular visits changed everything.
Because there was a surplus of money left over, the family was able to set up a trust to help other children whose families also couldn’t afford dental services. Called Wish For a Smile Trust, the fund is administered by New Zealand’s Association of Orthodontists and continues to assists others to this day. Pretty awesome! And one of the prerequisites to receiving assistance? Performing community service.
That’s what you call paying it forward. Like Evan, there are other kids whose self-esteem has been affected by their smile. Doctors mention how common it is to meet kids who don’t want to smile or speak publicly, or cover their mouths a lot. That’s in addition to enduring the cruel insults hurled by other children. Evan’s story has definitely made a difference for many.
Now a teenager, Evan is out of school and looking towards building his future. It’s amazing to see how much this one change has impacted him. When asked what he thought, this was his reply: “Good!” He can’t help but smile, and neither can we!
Can you relate to Evan and his family’s plight? Do you have a personal story about the generosity of strangers? Share with us in the comments!
New Zealand Herald