this article was originally published in the March 2018 edition of The Art of Living Beautifully magazine.
This spring, Smiles Charity will host its annual Concert and Family Festival. In the past 11 years, Smiles Charity has grown from a small roller skating party to a huge celebrity concert and festival for thousands of people. Founder, Dr. Jennifer Buchanan, enlightens us on what it means to be a part of Smiles Charity.
“The first Smiles event was a roller-skating party for my patients, to benefit Habitat for Humanity. That was in 1999,” Dr. Jennifer Buchanan told me as we chatted at Starbucks in Adriatica. The European-style village is home to Dr. Buchanan Orthodontics and host to the annual Smiles Charity Concert and Festival.
In 2010 one of Dr. Buchanan’s first orthodontic patients was killed in action while serving our country in Afghanistan. Ever since then Smiles Charity has built homes for wounded veterans, “Most people have no idea what veterans go through, or what they have done for us. They need a home, a safe haven where they can find peace with their families.” Thus far, with Dr. Buchanan’s vision and the help of countless volunteers, Smiles Charity has built and gifted 13 homes to local veterans.
The process for selecting a Smiles Charity beneficiary begins in late summer when the Smiles Veteran Selection Committee begins the 4-5 month process of selecting a winner. Having military backgrounds themselves, the committee members are able to use personal networks to search for veterans (relatively local to McKinney) who have been honorably discharged – many of whom are combat wounded. The Committee Chairman, Judge Keith Self, explains the process: “The heartbreaking thing about our most recent wars is how common Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries are. We are on our own search and rescue mission to find a local veteran in need.” However, not every winner needs or desires a brand new home. The 2017 recipient – who lives in Eldorado, McKinney – received an entire home remodel to make it completely handicap-accessible.
One of Dr. Buchanan’s future goals is to have the new home ready in time for the annual Smiles Charity Concert and Festival (which occurs Memorial Day weekend). This will minimize the amount of time a family must wait for construction. The house will be ready and gifted at the time of the concert! Achieving this goal is possible thanks to the fantastic title sponsor and event underwriter, CrestCars.com. “CrestCars.com has been involved with Smiles from day 1,” General Manager Mike Brosin told me. “My son is a Navy veteran. He served for eight-and-a-half years, including 3 tours in Iraq. Smiles Charity was an excellent opportunity to give back to our community and support other veterans like my son. I hope we can always be involved with such a special cause.”
The Smiles Charity Concert and Festival relies completely on the work of volunteers – there is no paid staff. Watching the entire charity event come together solely because the community wants to help is Dr. Buchanan’s favorite part: “Young people are getting involved, and they are beginning to understand what it is to give. There is need all around us.” Dr. Buchanan even assembles a Junior Board each year to help news of the concert reach our local high schools. As a philanthropist and an orthodontist, Dr. Buchanan has a great passion for reaching America’s youth, and teaching them to look beyond their own circumstances.
This year, along with the Maylee Thomas Band and opening act, Keith Owens Band, McKinney, Texas is excited to welcome country artist and eight time Grammy nominee, Joe Nichols to the Smiles Charity stage. Screaming fans can enjoy the soulful crooning of Mr. Nichols, who has six #1 hits and 8 top-10 singles, while relaxing on the Adriatica lawn with their best pals. Fireworks, food, bounce houses, and climbing walls are available for everyone’s enjoyment. We hope to see all of you there!
What lies ahead for Smiles? Dr. Buchanan thinks big – “Could we take this formula national and have a Smiles Charity Concert in towns all over the country?” I can totally see that. Can’t you?