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      Saving a smile one "birdie" at a time

      The Ortega family was told their son Noah would need cranial surgery by the time he was 18 years old to help repair the lining of his jaw.

      Noah's mom, Dalia Ortega, said when Noah was nine, waiting nine more years seemed like forever before anything could be done.

      "He wasn't confident," Dalia said. "He was always looking down, and I would tell him 'Noah make eye contact.'"

      Dalia said all that changed when Noah's dentist referred her son to Kyle Sparkman, a local orthodontist.

      "We came in that day in February, and that was the day that changed our life," Dalia said.

      Sparkman is the committee chair for the Ryan Palmer Foundation program 'Birdies for Brighter Smiles.' He said in three years the program has helped nearly 15 people.

      "When they (Ortega family) came in, it was emotional for all of us," Sparkman said. "He was praying that it would all work out, and it did."

      The program offers underprivileged children full dental and orthodontic treatment. For every shot Palmer makes on tour he's decided to donate $50 per birdie, $100 per eagle and $5,000 for every hole-in-one.

      Executive Director of the Ryan Palmer Foundation Becky Ringlbaurer said, since Palmer is currently on tour every birdie counts.

      "I think of self-esteem and there's not a price tag on what we can do to help kids gain their confidence," Ringlbaurer said.

      As for Noah, he has one more year until the braces come off, and he can parade those pearly whites.