Alexis Meyers is a happy 14-year-old girl. She smiles easily. But when she does, she often gets teased. “I get made fun of a lot,” she said. “Saying I have rabbit teeth and those kinds of names.”While she knows where the taunts come from — “My teeth aren't straight, and I have this huge overbite” — she fears that people just see her mouth without truly seeing her.“I've been wanting braces for five years,” she said. “I desperately need them.”So when her grandmother found a promotion online for Smiles For a Lifetime, an organization offering free orthodontic work, Alexis rushed to fill out an application.The eighth-grader at Clayton Middle School in Reno submitted her application in August through Carson City Orthodontics, the only office in Nevada to offer the program.She was selected as the Topsy Lane practice's first recipient.“She's definitely the kind of kid we were looking for,” said Dr. Melissa Jones. “She is so grateful. She's enthusiastic. She doesn't take it for granted.”Applicants must show an interest in helping others, providing references, and perform 12 hours of community service.“The hope is that they'll turn around and do something nice for someone else later on down the road,” Jones said. A Fallon native, Jones has been an orthodontist since 2008, opening the Carson City business in September. “That's one of the reasons I opened this practice,” she said. “I wanted to be able to give away free braces.”As a member of the Smiles for a Lifetime national organization, she has committed to giving out six sets a year. Winners are selected by a panel made up of community members.Alexis said the process went by quickly. “It seemed like we sent in the application and the next day I was getting braces,” she said. “For me, it was so short.”She will likely have to wear them for two years, she said. Once they're off, she expects an increased confidence as she moves forward, planning to pursue a career as a veterinarian. “I want people to look at me for me — a girl who loves animals — not this other girl,” she said. But even she doesn't know what that will look like. “I can't picture it,” she said. “I probably won't even recognize myself.”Smiles for a Lifetime Orthodontic Foundation will select in March three recipients for free braces provided by Carson City Orthodontics. For more information or for an application, go to www.s4l.org or carsoncityortho.com. They may also be picked up at the office, 3790 Highway 395, suite 406 or call (775) 434-0494.
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