For two years, Tyler Boone has been growing his hair out, and a few days after Christmas the 10-year-old finally had his 12-inch tresses shorn—not as part of some evolving tween aesthetic, but because the kid with the "super-big heart" was donating it to a friend who suffers hair loss, ABC News reports. The Georgia boy has been friends for years with 12-year-old Gabby Ruiz of Florida, where he used to live, and they've stayed pals despite the distance, per WFTS. When the two kids first started playing together, Tyler was curious why Gabby always wore head coverings, and his parents filled him in on her condition: alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss on the head and other parts of the body. Gabby had gone through myriad treatments to spur hair growth, but none of them had worked, which got Tyler thinking about how he could help his friend.
His solution: He'd grow his own hair out so that Gabby could make a wig out of it. "It's just hair, I can grow hair," he said at the time, per his mom. And so for two years Tyler let his hair grow down to his shoulders, shrugging off bullies and being mistaken for a girl. "I'm used to it now," he says, per KTLA. "I just want to make her happy." The kids headed to a mall hair salon in Brandon, Fla., on Dec. 29, where Gabby did the honors of lopping off Tyler's ponytail to usher in his new 'do (he opted for a buzz cut). "This is Tyler's personality … not something we encouraged him to do," his dad tells ABC. Gabby's wig, being put together by the nonprofit Children With Hair Loss, will be ready in about six weeks, her mom says. (A pill for hair loss hasn't offered the solution many hoped for.)