Paying It Forward Comes Full Circle for Anamosa Woman

By Nadi Crow, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The true spirit of the holiday season is all about giving. And this time of year, many people give, despite having struggles in their own lives. Now, one woman is finally getting recognition this year, for what she did last Christmas.

Michelle Bristol gave thousands of dollars to people she didn't even know last Christmas. So this year, people across Eastern Iowa came together to give her a present she said she's always wanted, a better smile.

Wednesday morning, the day after Christmas, Bristol got to show off her new smile. And thank the staff that took care of the costs.

“Now I have that beautiful smile to give to someone else and I don't cover like I was,” Bristol said.

But this story doesn't start at The Dental Center in Cedar Rapids. It starts a year ago, a week before Christmas when Bristol won $30,000 in a scratch off lottery ticket. She helped her foster sister and then went to Kmart and paid off several layaway accounts. And she didn't stop there; she also adopted families at the Boys and Girls Club.

“They had three families left. How do you pick? So we adopted all three, and all it was, was clothes for the [children],” Bristol said.

Bristol spent more than half the money on people she didn't even know.

“Even though her husband might have been angry with her, she gave away a significant chunk of that money to the less fortunate,” Dr. Shannon Hingst, The Dental Center Dentist, said.

Michelle even ran out of money before she could work on her teeth. She needed $10,000 worth of repairs.

“She gave away so much money, and you just don't see that that often. So it was really inspiring and made all of us want to do whatever we could and do something kind of special and pay it forward,” Hingst said.

Last week, Michelle came in to get her teeth fixed. A lifelong dream her husband encouraged her to get done. Without telling her, the dental center didn't charge her a dime.

“We're going to give her a new smile basically and I hope she smiles more and I hope she really enjoys it,” said Hingst.

It was all smiles and all hugs as Michelle made sure to thank everyone. Doing for her what she didn't think to do for herself.

“It's amazing it's nice I'll forever be grateful for everyone who pitched in,” said Bristol.

And giving back to Michelle didn't end there. The owners of "Bellisimo Salon and Day Spa" in Iowa City were also touched by her story. They treated her to a full makeover: her hair, nails, makeup and everything just for her because she gave back to so many others.

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