Sisters Eva and Chloe Tytka have always understood the value of service to others. Ever since they were little, their parents encouraged them to help in the community. Whether it be cleaning up at their local playgroup or taking on a new project, Eva and Chloe embody the notion that you give back when and how you can.
Eva, a senior at Silver Creek High School, explained, “I feel like you’re never too young to make a big impact in the world.”
And, when the sisters found out their uncle was diagnosed with cancer, make an impact is exactly what they did.
“He’s super fun and he’s hardworking,” said Chloe, a sixth grader at Silver Creek Middle School, when describing her uncle, Mark Kappel.
The sisters learned their uncle had cancer at the beginning of this past school year. They’ll never forget the moment they knew something was wrong.
“It was actually my senior football game,” said Eva. “I was cheerleading, and he had an issue and had to be rushed to the hospital.”
In the weeks and months that followed, Eva leaned not only on her family, but also on her school community — teachers and friends alike.
“Especially with cancer, you feel so powerless. When you hear that somebody is battling cancer, it stops you because you don’t know what tomorrow or the next day are going to be like. Finding that you can do something about it made me feel so much better.”
In Eva and Chloe’s case, that something was taking part in Bald for Bucks.
Joining the Movement
On March 16, 2023, Silver Creek High School held a Bald for Bucks event, led by social studies teacher Jessica Kardashian.
Leading up to the assembly, Eva and Chloe committed to cutting and donating their hair for the cause. They created their fundraising pages through the Bald for Bucks website and spread the word about their efforts to family and friends and on social media. The donations started rolling in, even from people who didn’t know the girls but knew their uncle and wanted to contribute.
“It was fun because it kind of turned into a competition between the two of us to see who raised more money,” Chloe laughed.
Eva couldn’t donate her hair the day of the event because she was playing Ariel in the school’s production of The Little Mermaid, using her natural red hair instead of a wig. But, as she awaited her own haircut, she continued fundraising and supporting her sister. When the event finally came, Eva stepped up in a big way.
Several Tytka family members came to Silver Creek High School for that Bald for Bucks assembly, but someone special was missing.
“My Uncle Mark was going to come and cut Chloe’s hair that day, but he was unfortunately at Roswell Park for treatment, so he was unable to make it,” Eva explained. “I stood in for him, and it was a really powerful moment for us to do something together.”
Both sisters had tears in their eyes as Eva cut eight inches of Chloe’s hair in honor of their uncle.
Chloe added, “It was really emotional, seeing that what we did mattered.”
Coming Together for the Cause
The beauty of Bald for Bucks is that when participants decide to make a statement and stand in solidarity with cancer patients, they’re not doing it alone.
18 students and faculty members participated in Silver Creek’s event alongside Eva and Chloe, each person with a different connection to cancer.
“We had a community with us and behind us and we were all so passionate about this event. It was a big strengthening moment because you realize that these people care just as much as I do to shave and cut their hair for the cause,” said Eva.
On a Monday after school, once the school musical had ended, Eva went to a salon in Fredonia to cut and donate ten inches of her hair.
“When I finally got it cut, it was freeing. It was a really good experience,” said Eva. “I called my aunt right after and I told her what was happening. She was really proud and happy.”
This haircut in solidarity with her uncle was not Eva’s first time donating her hair to support cancer patients.
“Two years ago, we had a family friend who was battling with breast cancer, and they had a benefit for her. People there were shaving and donating their hair. And I donated ten inches then. To me, I have plenty of hair and there are people who are battling cancer and suffering hair loss. Why not do my part and donate it?”
Bald for Bucks left a lasting impact on Chloe and Eva, and both girls say they plan to do it again in the future.
Their message to other young people: “Anyone can make a difference. Even the smallest thing can make somebody’s day or change their life.”