‘This is going to change my life’: Community helps Henrico woman get new smile

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 8:53 PM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Within just one hour of sharing Bernadatte Lautenslager’s story, the community helped her exceed a fundraising goal for new teeth.

Bernadette has an appointment with a local dentist Monday morning and says the community is helping change her life.

“I was at work, and my daughter posted your interview on her Facebook, and all of a sudden she said, ‘holy cow, mama. Have you seen what is going on? I said, ‘I am at work. I will check in a minute,’ it went from 400 to goal complete in an hour, and I was like ah!” Lautenslager said.

Bernadette was left in awe, knowing the biggest barrier to a new smile was broken down.

A lymphoma flare-up led to radiation on her neck, causing her teeth to go bad and fall out.

“My daughter is getting married, and all my teeth need to be taken,” Lautenslager said.

Caring for her family, working as a waitress, and living paycheck to paycheck, Bernadette did not have the nearly $8,000 most dentists had quoted.

Her hope was to no longer hide behind a mask on her daughter’s wedding day.

The family started a GoFundMe, and after hearing Bernadette’s story, more than $9,300 was raised to help her afford the complete extraction and dentures she needed. Several local dentists and health care professionals also reached out to help.

“I just say thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is going to change my life. I sit like this with my family; it is not just between you, me, and the rest of the world. Thanksgiving, I sat like this, so I just thank you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Lautenslager said.

The goal is to have all of the dental work completed by her daughter’s wedding in May.

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