As I thought about Craig I reflected upon his childhood. I remembered that he wanted to be the town drunk (or a lumberjack) and that his parents paid for some braces that he never received. This led me to my two acts of service that I provided. The first part of my service was to give three dollars to almost every homeless person I came into contact with and to talk to them a little bit when I could. This usually occurred when I was stopped at a traffic light. I’ll never know what they did with the money, but I do know that I was able to help them have enough money to have some food at their next meal. They were good people and seemed very grateful.
I have also had several patients who were unable to pay for their Orthodontic treatment for a variety of reasons. I have thus relieved them of what they owed in honor of Craig. In other words they did not pay for their treatment and were able to receive straight teeth. The exact opposite scenario of Craig’s youth. One child was in braces for the second time. They were removed the first time due to financial difficulties that the family had encountered. They still owed $2,750 dollars and could not pay due to a job loss. They came and requested that the braces be removed and planned on returning in a couple of years when they could afford the braces. I told them that we would complete the treatment as planned and that there was no need to make any additional payments. In another circumstance, there was a single Mom of four young children who had always wanted braces due to very severely crowded teeth. I was able to do so at several thousand dollars below the actual cost. I also made dozens of speech and feeding appliances for cleft lip and palate patients who could not afford them. They normally cost several hundred dollars, but they were all fabricated, delivered, and adjusted at no charge. These appliances allow them to learn to eat and speak during developmentally crucial times in their life. Some of these children are as young as 3 years old. We generally only make these when they have had several failed surgeries to repair the holes in the roof of their mouth. The total care given in Craig's honor was in the tens of thousands of dollars. I wish that I had more patients like Craig who pay for the braces and never come get them. (Just kidding) However, it was a wonderful feeling to provide care for individuals who otherwise would not have been able to receive it. It was a wonderful feeling to see their lives changed and transformed. What they received was more then straight teeth because it changed their whole demeanor and attitude. Their improved smile, self esteem, and confidence will surely serve them well throughout their lives. Thank you for your inspiration Craig!