2012 Dream Team Winner: Denise Zielinski

Denise Zielinski


We received many applications for this makeover and it was very difficult to narrow our selection to ten finalists. The selection committee read many wonderful stories about how much the nominees have given to others — each of these people deserves something nice for themselves. The love of the folks connected to the nominees shone through in these stories.

After personal interviews with the ten finalists, our winner for 2012 was selected.

Congratulations to Denise Zielinski — a 56-year-old Walmart employee who has touched many people's lives by her kind and giving spirit. Denise was nominated by a Walmart customer who had noticed Denise's special warmth in her post as a store Greeter. She had observed Denise's welcoming smile and was taken aback by the obvious condition of Denise's teeth.

Despite her smile's imperfections, Denise's welcoming personality has made friends of many who have walked through the Walmart door. She even has a number of children customers who make it a point to bring her their report card to show her how well they are doing in school. She rewards them with a dollar for a good report card. Denise also buys a hot coffee for the homeless folks who come to the store late at night — and if she can spare the money, she buys them a Subway sandwich. She said that at least she can help them get warm with the coffee if she doesn't have enough to buy them the sandwich.

One day recently, Denise overheard the child of a customer say to his mother, "Mom, why does that lady's teeth look like that?" Though she was embarrassed, she approached the boy and told him that her teeth look like they do because she did not take care of them properly when she was younger. She stressed to him the importance of good dental hygiene and seeing a dentist regularly. She then gave him a dollar to buy a toothbrush! The child was so excited and said "Can we buy a toothbrush, Mom?" So, a little while later, the child returned to Denise to show her that he did, in fact, buy a toothbrush that day!!

There are numerous similar stories about this woman who has given of herself to help those in need. In addition to her commitment to her Walmart customers, Denise also cares for her ill husband when she is at home. So her "mission" is full-time and does not leave her much time or money to take care of herself.

The Racine Dream Team is pleased to offer Denise a complete smile and glamour makeover (thanks to Kind Dentistry and Aspire Salon and Spa), a professional photo shoot (by Generations Photography), and a celebration dinner (at the Charcoal Grill).

May 25, 2012

Denise has had multiple dental appointments in preparation for her new smile. With custom dentures, there are impressions and measurements that are carefully made in order to achieve an accurate fit and a beautiful appearance.  Denise was able to help select the color, shape and size of her new teeth.  

On May 14th, Denise’s broken upper teeth were removed and her new upper denture and lower partial denture were placed.  We handed Denise the mirror at the end of her appointment, and tears filled her eyes as she saw her new, beautiful smile.  Actually, we were all emotional, seeing the joy and appreciation in Denise’s eyes.  She said, “I just can’t stop looking at myself!  My teeth are so pretty!” 

We are still working through the adjustment phase, but, in general, Denise is doing just great.  Her next step is to see Marianne at Aspire Salon and Spa for her new look!

May 1, 2012

It has been our sincere pleasure working with Denise  to improve her dental health.  We began our makeover with a comprehensive dental exam and discussion of treatment options.


We started Denise’s treatment with a thorough dental cleaning and a professional whitening of her teeth.  Denise's upper teeth were in rather poor condition and, unfortunately, we were not able to save them.  However, her lower teeth were in slightly better condition and we were able to place several tooth-colored fillings in preparation for a partial denture. 

Denise was actually kind of excited about having herupper teeth removed because she knew that we would be able to create a really pretty smile for her with a complete denture.  Denise has always had a big space between her upper front teeth and she was looking forward to having that space closed as well as having whiter and longer teeth.  Denise's identical twin sister has already had her space closed, so Denise said that she is happy that she will look more like her twin again.

In light of winning this makeover, Denise also decided to make some other positive changes for herself.  She began to eat more sensibly and has lost some weight and is trying to do more walking.  Denise is feeling healthier and happier and has referred to us as her “guardian angels.” She is very thankful to have been chosen for this opportunity. 

Joe Bauer