A touching story out of New Zealand shows a community’s power to fight back against bullying and uplift the spirits of a young boy who badly needed medical attention.
It all began in 2011 when 12-year-old Evan Hill of Christchurch appeared on “Campbell Live,” a local current affairs show. Hill had severely buck teeth, and it made him the target of relentless bullying. Because of his appearance, the kids at his school called him “Rabbit kid.”
“They make me look funny and silly,” Evan said about his teeth. “(The kids at school) call me a bunny rabbit and I’m not.”
To add to the problem, Hill’s family was going through some very hard times after a devastating earthquake that struck New Zealand earlier that year. One hundred eighty-five people died in the quake and thousands of homes were destroyed.
“Since the earthquakes, I’ve had a death in the family, my mum passed away and my dad’s house was virtually in the red zone. He found it hard to cope with that and had a stroke, and now he’s in a rest home,” Evan’s father, Stephen Hill, revealed on the show.
The family didn’t have the $12,000 needed to pay for Evan’s dental work or a car to drive him to any appointments. Dental care is free in New Zealand to people under 18. However, Evan’s case was too severe to qualify.
If Evan didn’t get his teeth fixed, the bullies wouldn’t be his only problem. According to Medical News Today, buck teeth can lead to difficulty with chewing or eating, problems speaking, teeth grinding, mouth breathing, jaw problems, tooth decay and headaches due to pressures in the jaw joint.
The family’s neighbor, Phil Cooper, appealed to the people watching the show to help the family. “A lot of us judge others by their covers and who they look like on the outside, but actually he’s a really nice kid,” Cooper said.
Boy bullied for buck teeth gets new smile after donations pour in | Newshub
After Evan’s story aired, “Campbell Live” was inundated with donations from its viewers and thousands of contributions added up to over $100,000 for the family. The money was used for Evan’s dental work and for the family to get a car. The family placed the rest of the money in a trust to pay for other children with similar dental problems.
Five years after appearing on television and sharing his story, orthodontist Ronald Sluiter took Evan’s braces off, revealing a beautiful smile. Over the course of the procedure, Evan’s teeth had to be moved 15 millimeters (⅔ of an inch) to be in a healthy and aesthetically appealing position.
“It’s about time,” Evan’s mother, Barbara Erickson, told Newshub. “I don’t know where we would have been today without the generosity we had. We had been looking to mortgage the house to pay for them.”
When asked how he looked after having his braces removed, Evan said: “Good.” Now, Even is looking forward to a career as a train driver.