CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Ryan Lagace takes great pride in his beard.
More than two decades in the making, Lagace has been growing the beard for so long that his wife and kids have never seen him without it.
Troy Peck is one of the few people who have seen Lagace clean-shaven. He’s also the sole reason Lagace recently shaved it all off.
The drastic change was all in honor of Peck’s daughter, Aspen, who was diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia late last year.
Peck said the doctors told he and his wife that Aspen only had a 20% chance of survival.
But after completing several rounds of chemotherapy and undergoing a bone marrow transplant, Aspen is cancer-free and rebounding in ways her parents never expected her to.
“It’s absolutely amazing, the resiliency of kids,” Peck said. “To be able to bounce back like that is just huge.”
Aspen is not only walking again, but she’s also eating on her own and playing with her brother. But her parents are constantly preparing for the worst, knowing she has a high relapse rate.
Lagace began his campaign back in July, when he said he’d part ways with his facial hair if the Pecks’ GoFundMe page for Aspen reached $100,000.
At the time, it was approximately $12,000 shy.
Donors showed up big time for the Pecks, helping them reach their fundraising goal much earlier than anticipated.
The money will be put to good use. Peck said they’ve been in constant contact with a doctor in Seattle who’s conducting research for a cure to Aspen’s specific cancer mutation.
The Pecks now have the means to pack up and move across the country, should they need to do so.
While the fear of the unknown is overwhelming, Peck said he’s thankful for friends like Lagace, who gave up a piece of his identity in honor of Aspen.
Lagace had his beard shaved off as promised earlier this month. He immediately admitted he didn’t like his new look and said he plans to grow it back.
But even though the beard is gone, his friendship with Peck has grown even stronger, just like the little girl they’re all rooting for.