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Md. family raises thousands for charity with unique fashion accessory

A BracketEars bracelet. (WJLA photo)

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJLA) – Most children probably wouldn't consider braces a fashion accessory—at least not a desirable one. But two young girls are changing that notion and raising thousands of dollars for a good cause.

Inside Casey and Lisa Crafton's kid-friendly Columbia dental practice, there's a burgeoning business that is transforming unused surgical steel brackets and plastic bands for braces into jewelry.

The Craftons’ two daughters, McKenzie and Gigi, are the creators of BracketEars.

"I know some people don't like getting braces," said 11-year-old Gigi, "but the BracketEars sort of make it like fun. You can change the colors in it and everything."

The startup company sells earrings—including miniature ones for dolls—and now bracelets not for profit, but to raise money for autism organizations.

"As a pediatric dentist, I have a lot of autistic patients and I thought it sounded like a great idea," said Dr. Casey Crafton.

Howard County Autism Society has been one of the beneficiaries.

"I definitely would like this partnership to flourish," said Executive Director Judy Grusso. "It’s a win-win for both of us."

The girls have learned a lot about the world as their family traveled to China to find a manufacturer. And the whole process has taught them the power of an idea.

"I think that all kids can really do it. If they have an idea, they should stick with it," said 15-year-old McKenzie.

Gigi added, "Because it might end up being a really good idea."

Their dad hopes they've also learned another important lesson.

"You can teach your kids to try to pay it forward," said Crafton. "At the end of the day, we need more people to kind of help out."

So far, BracketEars has raised $13,000 for autism organizations, and its impact is growing. The earrings are being sold by Amazon, and Crafton says he's been contacted by companies in South America and Europe to sell BracketEars. As a condition, the firms must donate at least 10 percent of their proceeds to a charity of their choice.

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