Navy vet, retired PNNL employee awarded with a $50,000 new smile

Columbia Basin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons' ‘Smiles For Veterans’ program awards Navy Vet Mike Blakley with the procedure for a new smile.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Columbia Basin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons (CBOMS) in Kennewick awarded Mike Blakley, a Navy veteran and retired PNNL employee with a procedure that will change his life. It’s a brand new set of permanent teeth, costing $50,000, free of charge. Blakley found out he was selected for the new smile Monday morning.

“I was not expecting something like this. I think the only thing I’ve ever wanted in life was life itself,” said Blakley. “This is a big, big winning for me.”

“You know, in Mike’s case, humble guy, kind guy, serving others but never looking to draw attention to himself and more than deserving,” said Dr. Ryan Toponce, one of the oral and maxillofacial surgeons at CBOMS.

Blakley said what he’s most excited about is getting to eat normally. He also said he’s ready to kiss his wife of 49 years with confidence again.

It was his family who convinced him to apply, Blakley said.

He said it was his daughter, son and wife who pushed him toward the application for ‘Smiles for Veterans.’

“It’s too expensive for me to cover by myself, so I’ve been putting it off,” said Blakley. “I just couldn’t afford it. Period.”

“It’s a blessing for us to be able to give back to the men and women who literally give everything for our country. It’s humbling for us to be able to offer this opportunity,” said Dr. Toponce.

CBOMS started this program over six years ago, but since last year, they are focusing exclusively on veterans.

“We love the Tri-Cities, we love our country and we’re grateful to all the men and women who can give so much for us,” Dr. Toponce said.

The surgeons said this procedure will happen within the next several months, and we will keep you updated as we join Mike Blakley on this journey for a new smile.

READ: Smiles for Veterans program comes back to Tri-Cities