By Tammy Scileppi

An aspiring ballet dancer’s local fund-raising efforts for a cause she believes in have brought smiles and donations from folks across Queens and beyond.

For 16-year-old ballerina Priyana Rose Kalé of Jamaica Estates, last Saturday afternoon—a beautiful, sunny day—seemed like the perfect time to show off her ballet moves in support of The Tutu Project, whose mission is to raise funds for women and men with breast cancer. So, she donned her tutu and ballet slippers and headed for Forest Hills, transforming the corner of Austin Street and Ascan Avenue—by Micciche Salon—into her very own stage. Curious passersby, who posed for photos with Kalé, eagerly donated their dollars to her cause. Kalé explained that donations provide assistance with cancer-related costs not covered by insurance.

“Mr. Micciche so generously hosted me at his salon to fund-raise for breast cancer. Because of his and his staff’s support, I have raised a large sum of money that will bring me that much closer to achieving my goal of $5,000,” said Kalé, who has already collected over $3,000 for the project on her special site (www.classy.org/fundraise?fcid=512923), thanks to online donations and support from residents in Queens as well as from Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The former Our Lady Queen of Martyrs student also noted that she recently posed for the cure near her Jamaica Estates home, at Pace University in Manhattan, and at other New York City locations.

The Tutu Project was started as a loving gesture by devoted husband and photographer Bob Carey, now a New Jersey resident. His wife, Linda has been struggling with breast cancer for years. Launched in March 2012, Carey’s out-of-the-box idea gained momentum after a ballet company in Arizona presented him with a photography project. According to Linda, when his “safe” black-and-white approach on the project didn’t work, Carey put on a tutu and took images of himself. It was a success and he kept doing that, just to bring a bit of levity to their lives, she recalled.

Most guys wouldn’t wear a pink tutu in their own living room, but Carey has been spotted in unexpected locations throughout the world, sporting his signature look as a way of raising global breast cancer awareness. Eventually, images of Carey posing in his symbolic pink tutu at such locations as Times Square, Grand Central Station and the Lincoln Memorial went viral.

“This project is no longer just about Bob and me,” Linda said. “When it went viral, we received so many emails and Facebook messages thanking us for sharing our story and bringing hope and laughter into people’s lives. We were humbled.”

Their message? “We dare folks around the world to wear a tutu, take a picture and make a donation to our non-profit (the Carey Foundation), then pass on the dare.” To date, over $300,000 has been raised. (Oct. 22 is officially #dare2tutu Day).

So it seemed like a karmic connection when two years ago, Kalé happened to come across thetutuproject.com. She was moved by Bob Carey’s story and as a “fellow ballerina,” felt compelled to support his cause, even starting her own blog: tututasticforyou.wordpress.com.

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