BISMARCK, N.D. - Five people in the Bismarck community will soon be getting braces, free of charge. And it's because of one high school kid and his orthodontist.
Hunter Seifert, a junior at Shiloh, passed away in February after battling cancer for years. But a promise between him and his orthodontist, Dr. Dustin Hollevoet, means he is continuing to impact the community, even after he's gone.
Hollevoet spends his days at this practice in Bismarck, seeing 90 to 100 patients each day. One of his first patients eight years ago? Hunter Seifert.
“One of the most positive genuine people I've ever met, especially as a kid,” Hollevoet said.
Doctor and patient quickly became friends and when Hunter became sick, Hollevoet made him a promise.
“I kind of always told him I would do something for him, and he kind of held me to it and it was easy to hold me to it, he would just smile and say you better, and I said I would,” Hollevoet said.
A couple weeks after Siefert passed, Hollevoet posted on his practice's Facebook page about the idea for Hunter's Smile, to provide braces to someone in the community.
“Someone that couldn't afford them, someone that really needed them, someone that would never ask for them,” Hollevoet said.
And the post was shared more than 1,000 times. Hollevoet says it was overwhelming seeing the response, and he couldn't pick just one person. With the help of Hunter's mom, five people were chosen to get a set of braces for free.
“I'm lucky to be where I am, I'm lucky to do this every day extremely fortunate especially when you think about it after times like this and I guess I have the capacity to give back in this way, and I'm extremely proud to be able to do it,” Hollevoet said.
And later this month, he's hoping to carve out one day to outfit them all with braces, honoring the promise he made to Hunter.
Hollevoet says he wants to make this an annual campaign, and he's hoping it will turn into something that will benefit organizations like Brave the Shave, that are helping the fight against childhood cancer.