Those who know Hannah Farris say she’s a happy, loving 14-year-old with a lot of personality. You don’t always see that, though, on her face.
When she was six, Hannah was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called ectodermal dysplasia, which prevents her from growing permanent teeth. As a result, she said, she doesn’t like to smile.
But after some surprise news she got Thursday, that could all change.
When Hannah and her mom Kristi went to the 106.1 KISS-FM studios Thursday, they thought there were there to take a tour and find out how an auction went that the station organized for them.
Instead a bombshell was dropped on them -– a local group of oral surgeons wanted to perform the $50,000 dental implant surgery Hannah needs at no cost to her family.
The news brought both of them to tears.
“This feels like a dream,” said Hannah. “It’s like I need to be woken up. I don’t know, I just can’t take it in.”
For weeks, an Arlington business group has been leading the charge to raise money for Hannah’s surgery -- launching a website, making T-shirts and organizing fundraisers in the community. After NBC 5 first reported on their campaign to “Help Hannah Smile,” and KISS-FM started sharing her story, the group said donations have been pouring in.
“Anytime we see something like this, if we can help, we try to,” said Billy the Kidd, one of KISS-FM’s on-air personalities. “We’re glad it worked out the way it did today.”
Earlier this week, KISS-FM got a phone call from one of the oral surgeons who said his daughter heard about Hannah’s situation on the radio.
“She was basically like, 'Dad, you can help, can’t you?'” said Kidd. “And it turned out, he was like, 'Maybe I can.'”
The surgeons, who want to remain anonymous, will now work with Hannah and her mom to set up the procedure.
“I almost fell out of my chair,” said Kristi Farris. “It’s just really amazing. I never thought when we started this that it would get this big. I thought maybe we would raise a few thousand dollars and get the word out. I never knew that the community would hear this and pay it forward.”
If that wasn’t enough, KISS-FM also surprised Hannah with tickets to see her favorite band, One Direction –- and gave her a poster signed by them.
An emotional and appreciative Hannah had some words for everyone who has supported her.
“Thank you,” said Hannah. “It’s really amazing knowing that there’s people out there who care. You’re really amazing.”
She said this isn’t the end for her. She wants to use the money she’s raised and the money she hopes to continue raising to help kids just like her.
“A lot of people [with the same condition] have contacted me,” said Hannah. “That’s when I realized I’m not helping myself. I’m getting the word out about this and helping others not be afraid to be who they are.”
To learn more about how you can help Hannah as she continues her mission, visit http://www.helphannahsmile.com.