Jessica McDaniels had been teased since childhood about her teeth. Still, it came as a shock when she found a photo of herself had gone viral among online bullies.
In the photo, Jessica is standing in the background, filming, during her friend’s proposal. Jessica can be seen recording the moment and– of course– beaming with joy for her friend.
Like Jessica, a bystander snapped a photo of the May 2nd proposal, but they turned the sweet photo into something painful, cropping it to show a close-up of McDaniel’s face. Once the photo was online, it quickly went viral, leading to unspeakably cruel comments.
McDaniels was horrified, not only by the taunts but that the spotlight had been taken away from her friend and turned so viciously onto her, instead.
Here’s what those nasty commenters obviously didn’t think about: Oral surgery is expensive. In McDaniels’ case, prohibitively expensive, with one expert estimating the repairs at a minimal of $3,000.
McDaniels’ adult teeth didn’t start coming in until she was 11 or 12 years old, and when they did, they came in crooked and she developed an extreme overbite. In addition to her dental problems, Jessica had undergone multiple surgeries between the ages of two and 12 to correct her hearing. The last surgery occurred right around the time her adult teeth came in.
“I didn’t care about them talking about me – I just wanted to protect my kids,” said McDaniels, a 32-year-old single mother and hairdresser, with tears streaming down her cheeks.
But her old high school friend, Krystal Starks, knew McDaniels’ story and, although they’d lost touch since graduation, she just couldn’t stand by and do nothing while the taunts continued.
“For a person doing something innocent, for them to be caught off-guard and taken advantage of like this is horrible,” Starks said. And, “For what? For likes on Facebook?”
Starks launched a GoFundMe account for McDaniels, and donors have so far pitched in $8,667 of a $10,000 goal. Meanwhile, Dr. Maryann Udy, an oral surgeon who’d heard about her story, got in touch and offered to fix her smile – free of charge. (McDaniels plans to use the GoFundMe donations to pay bills and cover other basic household costs.)
The entire process would be taken in steps and involve bone remodeling, dental implants and, obviously, pain and swelling. But McDaniels took Udy up on her offer and, on July 11, underwent the first two-hour procedure with incredible results!
Bullying should never be condoned nor tolerated, whether the targets are children or adults. But in this case, what started out as pure, unadulterated nastiness has resulted in a beautiful smile that McDaniels is now proud to share.
Jessica now plans to start a nonprofit to help others with stories like hers.
Learn more about her in the video below, and share this story to spread more smiles!
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