BENTON, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas teenager has gone out of her way to help children battling cancer.
“It made me feel good like I did it for someone else and not for myself,” said Ava Tunnell.
Ava, 13, is selfless, according to her grandma, Lisa Simmons.
“She’s precious,” said Simmons.
Simmons was diagnosed with colon cancer in early 2021.
“I just started having severe pain in my stomach and so went to urgent care, and then they sent me to the emergency room, so that’s how we found out,” Simmons explained.
Simmons, who has undergone chemotherapy and radiation, started losing her hair after her first round of chemo.
“I was just shedding all over the house. I had really long hair, and so we just decided to cut it,” she said. “It’s like our crown and glory, our hair, so it was really hard.”
Simmon’s granddaughter, Ava, took notice of her grandmother’s struggle. With long, thick hair herself, Ava was inspired.
“I just thought that other kids, some other kids didn’t have any hair, since I had healthy hair, I could give it to someone who needed it,” Ava said.
In Simmon’s honor, Ava donated more than a foot of her hair to Wigs for Kids, a nonprofit that helps children suffering from hair loss from medical causes.
“A real, human hair wig is probably $2,000, so … it is such a gift. It really is a gift, and it would change, change you know the person, the cancer patient’s mood and make them feel better about themselves,” Simmons said.
Simmons said she was blown away by Ava and her willingness to help a stranger.
“Ava has just always been so mature beyond her years, and so she is just, she is quite a kid,” Simmons said. “I couldn’t be more proud, and I love her so much.”
Ava will admit her new hairstyle is a major change. However, she told KSN she would like to donate her hair again in the future.
As for Simmons, she is doing what she can to live each day as her last. She recently traveled to Disney with her grandkids, and she has plans to visit Hawaii with her family soon.
“We don’t waste any time,” Simmons said. “It makes me appreciate every day and my family.”