LIBERTY, Mo. - Mr. Mike, a custodian at Shoal Creek Elementary for seven years, knows a lot of the kids by name. And they all know him.
"Mr. Mike!" all the kids yelled at an all-school assembly Friday where Mike NItsch was presented with $6,750 to help pay for a complete mouth makeover after losing his teeth to tonsil cancer two years ago.
"We wanted him to be able to smile again, to be able to eat again!" said Alesha Wallace.
The mom's prayer group she is a part of decided to help Nitsch with his mounting medical bills to get his smile back. Wallace says she listed friends who could donate $25 to start, but then a Facebook movement took over when she started the page "Smiles for Mike."
"The next morning, my street was a traffic jam! I couldn't change out of my pajamas because people were coming to the door to give checks!" she laughed.
The kids wanted to help, too. One group started selling candy-grams and donating all the proceeds. Many of the candy-grams were sent to Mr. Mike himself. Among them were sweet notes written by tiny hands.
"One little girl even wrote, 'Thanks for working our soul out,'" Nitsch said. "That gets ya. You could tell she wrote it herself."
With all this help, Mike got his brand new smile four days ago and is now practicing that smile with the help of the kids at Shoal Creek Elementary.
"Smile Mr. Mike!" kids kept saying. As Mr. Mike smiled back, he always added a sheepish, 'Thank you'.