Peter Ralyea honors late brothers through Bald for Bucks
Bald for Bucks before and after pictures of Peter Ralyea

While watching a Buffalo Sabres game, Peter Ralyea got an idea. He happened to catch hockey personalities Marty Biron and Dan Dunleavy getting their heads shaven during intermission, a tradition they’ve kept up for more than 10 years through Bald for Bucks. The statement of going bald to raise funds for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center struck a chord with Peter, and not long after, he committed to joining the movement himself.

Peter laughed, “That’s how it happened. So, I blame Marty!”

Peter fundraising for Bald for Bucks

Remembering Dan and Bill: Peter’s Why

Peter grew up the youngest of five brothers. “They’re all totally different from each other,” he said with a smile as he reminisced.

His brother Bill died of pancreatic cancer at 55 years old. More than 20 years later, pancreatic cancer claimed his brother Dan’s life as well. They had no prior family history of the disease.

“Bill was a surprise at 55. We don’t have a lot of cancer in the family; we have some. And then when Dan got it, that was a bit of a shock. I actually came here to Roswell Park and got tested for the gene and I was negative.”

Peter recalled both Dan and Bill lived full, unique and meaningful lives.

Peter and Dan
Dan Ralyea (left)
Bill Ralyea
Bill Ralyea

“Bill was a football player, an athlete, an avid sailor, a very successful sales rep, a loving husband and a good brother. He and his wife Sally, who recently passed, were really close. They spent all their time together. They owned a sailboat, and they lived on it all summer,” said Peter. “Dan was more of the character, a fantastic salesman. He won national awards for his sales efforts, and he loved to go on cruises with his wife Sue. As a matter of fact, in the last year of his life, they went on four cruises. It was difficult for him to do that, but that was kind of his goal in the last year of his life.”

Peter thought going Bald for Bucks would be a great way to honor his brothers while also remembering other family members and friends who have either passed or are battling cancer, as well.

“My brothers suffered a lot, and going Bald for Bucks is nothing. It is an easy tribute, and it is for the cause. If something that I do and the money that I’ve raised will help Roswell Park come infinitesimally closer to solving pancreatic cancer, that’s what I’m here for.”

Peter’s Head Shaving for Cancer Research

Peter made each step of his Bald for Bucks journey a fun one. Even though he was just one person shaving his head, he created an environment where friends, family members and supporters got to be a part of the experience.

On February 14, 2024, Peter hosted a gathering in the clubhouse of their apartment complex where about 20 people could watch his head shaving and learn about the cause.

“My barber who had cut my hair for 30 years came out of retirement, and there was a lot of laughter and a lot of pictures taken.”

Peter raised nearly $4,000 through his Bald for Bucks campaign.

Peter getting his head shaven at his Bald for Bucks event.

How Peter Fundraised for Bald for Bucks

Peter getting his head shaven at his Bald for Bucks event.

Once Peter created his online dashboard through Bald for Bucks, he found success primarily through three different fundraising methods.

  1. Facebook: Peter admits he’s not a regular Facebook user, but he did utilize the platform quite a bit while fundraising. He posted once a week leading up to his head-shaving date, with details about what he was doing, why he was participating and progress photos as his hair was growing out.
  2. Email: Peter revisited his address list and sent out a series of emails explaining why he was joining the Bald for Bucks challenge. He was surprised by the responses he received, even from old business associates — some from ten years ago — who, since reaching out about Bald for Bucks, have reconnected.
  3. Word of mouth: Simply telling people about your fundraiser and commitment to the cause can go a long way! Peter brought up Bald for Bucks in conversations and regularly talked to people about his efforts to garner interest and support and spread awareness.

Making a Difference

Funds raised through Bald for Bucks benefit research, clinical trials and quality-of-life programs at Roswell Park. Knowing the impact is what kept Peter inspired throughout his Bald for Bucks journey, with his two late brothers never far from his heart.