Growing up in Phoenix, Bob Carey probably never imagined that one day, he would take photographs of himself wearing pink tutus at locations all over the world, his burly body posed in pliés on beaches and performing pirouettes on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Then again, Carey probably never imagined his wife, Linda Lancaster-Carey, would get breast cancer — twice. The pink tutu debuted in 2003 as a humorous diversion for the couple and grew into a social-media phenom, a series of photos, a calendar, a book, a nonprofit, and the Tutu Project. The Careys recently announced that the Carey Foundation has raised $100,000 for breast-cancer charities. And in New York City, where the Careys live, Bloomingdale's has unveiled five storefront windows filled with Bob Carey's tutu photos.
Last year, the inaugural #Dare2Tutu social-media campaign raised $50,000 for the breast-cancer community. This year, the Careys hope to raise $65,000. The campaign kicked off this past Saturday, October 1, the first day of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"It's really easy: You put on a tutu, you take a picture, and you donate," Linda says. "We also have opportunities for schools and businesses to work with us."
This year, people can get their pets in on the action. Rubie's Costume Company, where Bob got his two tutus, has donated 2,500 pet tutus. Details were still being sorted out as of late September, but the notion to get canines in the campaign might have been inspired by last year's reptilian cameo. "Someone sent us a picture of a turtle in a tutu," Linda says. "It sounds so weird. It was very interesting. It just sparks fun. That's really the basis of this tutu project: fun and inspiration."
The Bloomingdale's display includes blue tutus, meant to raise awareness of men's breast cancer.
"A lot of people don't know that men get breast cancer," Linda explains. "And the unfortunate thing is, because men don't check their breasts — I don't know what the exact percentage is — but in a high percentage it's already spread through more of their body."
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Linda wants to include a range of different-colored tutus for various cancers in the campaign. "We've realized it's not just about a pink tutu, it's what that tutu can do," she says. "We have to cover all different kinds of cancers."
She has a few more goals on deck, as well.
"To get the word out, to continue to grow the nonprofit," she says. "And just get more people involved, have it be more widespread, and have people have fun. The more money we raise, the more we can help people."
For more information, visit dare2tutu.com