Bryan Linville is more than just a resident of Ellwood City, he is the son of a woman who lost her battle to ovarian cancer and a father to two children who he wants to inspire the same way his mother inspired him.
“She worked with kids who had autism, she had a really kind heart and always wanted to help people,” he said. “I want to help kids in the same way she helped them and I want my own kids to remember me the way I remember her.”
Linville’s mother was battling stage four ovarian cancer for almost three years and after the loss of her hair due to the treatment, he decided he would grow his out to donate it to her when it got long enough.
After growing his hair for nearly the same duration as his mothers battle, it was just starting to become long enough to be donated when she passed away on October 9, 2017 at the age of 61.
“We knew her health was declining but we didn’t expect her to pass so soon,” Linville stated. This will be the first holiday season without his mother and he expects it will tough.
“She was my rock and a really important person in my life. We did a lot of things together, we even had our own children’s book publishing company that we ran together.”
Linville has since halted the publishing company while he works through his mother’s passing, but he hopes to get it up and running again in the future.
“[While she was still alive] I wrote a children’s book called “You’ll Always Be My Little Sunshine,” it was something that she used to say to me as a child and now I say it to my kids,” he reminisced. “We donated more books than we ever sold and that was good with us.”
Linville still wanted to donate his hair, this time he planned on donating to Wigs for Kids, and after checking around at some of the local salons the only person that offered to donate their time to cut it was Stacy Houk, owner of L.A. Cuts.
“His story hit close to home, my daughter grew up with Alopecia, a disorder that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss, and my mother also passed away from cancer,” Houk said. “I just don’t understand how anyone could turn down the opportunity to donate their time to a good cause. I wouldn’t feel good knowing that I charged someone for something like that. He feels good, I feel good, and it’s going towards a great cause. My daughter grew up having to wear wigs [so she didn’t get bullied] and I feel like this was a great opportunity for me to help give back to something that gave my daughter a normal childhood.”
Linville now sports a very different hairstyle than he had for the past few years – it is short, “much lighter and more professional looking,” as he describes.
At the time of cut, his hair was nearly 14 inches and he had seven locks in total to donate, the minimum requirement is 12 inches and four locks.
As if donating his hair wasn’t enough of a good deed, he decided to go above and beyond.
“After my hair cut I took over 20 bags full of jackets, pants, and other warm clothing to donate to charity.”
He says he knows his mother would be proud, and that makes it all worth it.
“It was hard watching her lose the battle but it was also rewarding to be there for her, and now I just want to keep doing things in honor of her.”
Linville knows he will keep donating when he can, and he hopes to someday grow his hair out to donate again.
Photos provided by Bryan Linville.