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Teen bullied over her smile is moved to tears by parents’ birthday surprise

PLANO, Texas – Many middle schoolers ask for gadgets or technology for their birthdays but not Texas eighth grader Aeva Leck, who has asked for the same thing since the third grade – braces.

"Aeva's been asking for forever," said her mother, Jessica Benenate. "It just made me hurt even more cause I know how badly she doesn't just want them but needs them."

Her mother said classmates have picked on her over the years because of her teeth.

"That really impacts a young girl," Benenate told KIAH.

"They have the silver gum wrappers," Leck said. "They would fold them up and put them in their mouth; they'd smile at me and be like, 'Hey, Aeva, now I have a dentist you can go see.'"

Braces can cost on average anywhere from a few thousand to more than $10,000 depending on what's needed and who's doing it.

"Then, recently, I was able to get a little bit of help with that, so it kind of made it possible," said Leck's father, Kim.

Over the weekend, they were finally able to give their daughter the gift she had wanted for so many years.

"They were saving one of the cards for last, and I was like, 'Okay, well, it's a card,' and then I opened it (and it read): 'Happy Birthday you're the most beautiful person inside and out let's get that perfect smile - hey!'" Leck said.

Leck's appointments are already set up for her, according to her mother, and she will be seeing the orthodontist in January.

"Feels good to see her happy," Kim said. "(To) see that raw joy come out of somebody, it's pretty special."

While Leck said she's happy about having a new smile, she agrees with her parents when it comes to the bigger picture.

"What I try to think about is, if it's not going to matter in the next five years, you shouldn't really worry about it that much," Leck said.

Benenate said she tells Leck to hold her head up high "because she's beautiful and intelligent and that's all that really matters."

Her father agreed, adding "Chin up, head high, life goes on."