12/12/2013 AT 11:15 AM ET
Picture a heavyset man, wearing nothing but a pink tutu, leaping about New York’s High Line. Would you believe he’s doing it for his wife?
Bob and Linda Carey have been together since 1986. When Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, Bob decided to expand on an odd project he’d started: He’d taken a few pictures of himself in a pink tutu, and the unlikely images cheered Linda up and gave both of them something to focus on other than her diagnosis. What started as a silly gag has become an unlikely but lasting symbol of hope for cancer patients across the country.
Bob’s Tutu Project raises money to help cancer patients cover sundry expenses related to their treatments through sales of his prints, his photo book Ballerina and donations. His Carey Foundation is partnered with CancerCare, a nationally run nonprofit, to help distribute the funds they raise.
We like Bob’s take on dealing with cancer: “This all sucks, you know? And it’s stupid that it’s happening.” But, he adds, “There’s no reason for us to suffer through it like this. I’m here to make people happy.”
And it seems to be working: “It just makes me laugh, to see my husband dancing around in a pink tutu,” Linda says. “It helps me be positive. The more I laugh, the better I feel.”
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