A pair of doctors has set off on a cross-country bike ride to support Smile for a Lifetime, an international nonprofit program dedicated to providing donated orthodontic care to children and young adults who otherwise could not afford care.
Smile for a Lifetime board president and orthodontist Dr. Don Montano and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Rob Relle began their ride on September 12 in Santa Monica. Joined by cyclists Brian Dooley and Abel Rivera and accompanied by a support vehicle, they will average a hundred miles a day for approximately five weeks, traveling along Route 66 to Virginia Beach.
“We are taking on this epic cross-country ride with the goal of helping as many kids as possible to get the high-quality orthodontic care they deserve through Smile for a Lifetime. It’s an idea two and a half years in the making,” said Montano.
“Along the way, we hope to shine a light on the mission of Smile for a Lifetime, encourage people across the country to donate, and ultimately inspire more orthodontists, dentists, and oral surgeons to join our network of volunteer providers,” said Montano.
Since its inception in 2008, Smile for a Lifetime has served an average of 600 to 650 children per year with a focus on children in foster care, low-income homes, and other special circumstances. This year, the group said, applications are at an all-time high in large part due to the pandemic and families facing increased financial hardship.
All orthodontic and dental care is provided free of charge outside of an initial application fee, with doctors donating their time and treatment while orthodontic manufacturers deliver the necessary equipment at no cost.
“As the Smile for a Lifetime waiting list grows, it’s imperative that we add more doctors to our network in order to match families with their services,” said Relle.
“By traveling roughly 3,000 miles across the country and making some stops to visit with local dental communities, families, and potential patients, we hope to raise awareness of the need and different ways to help nationwide,” said Relle.
OrthoBanc is a key sponsor of the “Creating Smiles One Mile at a Time” campaign, along with McGill & Hill Group, Montano Elevated Orthodontics, ProBioraPlus, and Dolphin Imaging & Management Solutions.
The riders plan to take a southerly route through California, Arizona, and New Mexico to the panhandle of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Illinois, and Kentucky before dipping into Virginia for the final push, reaching Virginia Beach on October 30 or October 31.
During the journey, the Smile for a Lifetime Foundation will feature a “Where in the World Are They Smiling” social media campaign that will award prizes to followers who can guess correctly where the riders will land on any given week. Additional photos will be added on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to provide clues.