The Tutu Project™ for the Carey Foundation Becomes the First Recipient of Selma Schimmel Vital Grant

Los Angeles/New York – October 3, 2017 – Vital Options International (VOI) and healtheo360 announced today it has created the Selma Schimmel Vital Grant as a way to provide support to cancer patients facing financial hardship as a result of their treatment. The Tutu Project™ for the Carey Foundation will be the first recipient of the grant and will oversee vetting applicants, as well as dividing and allocating the $5,000 donation to families who need help paying for non-medical necessities.

Bob Carey, founder of The Tutu Project™ for the Carey Foundation (PRNewsfoto/Vital Options International,hea)

“I imagine my sister Selma in heaven dancing right now knowing we partnered with The Tutu Project™,” says Debby Bitticks, the CEO of VOI. “As a cancer patient and founder of VOI, she spent more than 30 years advocating for her fellow patients and survivors. It troubled her to think that someone saddled with medical bills might not have money to put gas in their car or might have to skip lunch.”

The Selma Schimmel Vital Grant is one of several initiatives created by the Cancer Collaboration, a partnership between VOI and healtheo360 to support the 12.7 million Americans diagnosed with cancer annually in the United States. VOI recently published The Cancer Concierge® (, a free organizing eBook created in partnership with Dorothy Breininger (a.k.a. “Dorothy The Organizer”) and based on the system Schimmel used to manage her own cancer treatment. Healtheo360, a fixture at the major medical meetings, uses its online platform to disseminate the latest health information and provide a forum where patients, caregivers, family and friends can connect in time of need.

“A nearly 15-year battle with stage IV breast cancer has forced my family to deal with a mountain of unpredictable costs, including high deductibles and my needing treatments not covered by our plan,” says Linda Carey, who with her husband Bob founded The Tutu Project™. “This has only reinforced our resolve to continue to raise funds and try to lessen the burden for other cancer patients. As I know, the small things – having a cell phone, a utility bill paid for, or a car service to a doctor’s appointment –
can go a long, long way.”

The Tutu Project is the brainchild of Carey’s husband Bob, a photographer who took photos of himself in a pink tutu as a way to lessen the gravity of his wife’s diagnosis. After the photos went viral, the couple began channeling their efforts into helping others affected by the disease.

“Unfortunately, we hear stories at healtheo360 all the time of cancer patients skipping their medication or treatment to save money,” says Dave Duplay, the founder. “While we can’t fix the healthcare system or rising cost of treatment, there are things that we can do to address the issue and lessen the patient burden.”

Both Bitticks and Duplay have been deeply affected by cancer. Bitticks, her sister, grandmother, and mother all had the BRCA gene mutation and diagnosed with breast cancer. Duplay’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and his partner and company’s vice president of marketing and community management developed breast cancer in her early 30s.

About Vital Options International (VOI)
Vital Options International (VOI) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit cancer communication, education, and advocacy organization with a special mission: Generating global cancer conversations. Today, through its Advocacy in Action®, Vital Conversations, and Living With Cancer platforms, Vital Options International continues to lead the most meaningful panel discussions and engaging one-on-one interviews about clinical trials, treatment advances, psychosocial issues, and access to care – all the vital challenges faced by everyone in the global cancer community.

About healtheo360, was founded by healthcare business and technology strategist David Duplay in response to his sister-in-law being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and his mother with Alzheimer’s disease. Though its Caring Network, patients, caregivers, family and friends can share their stories to inspire, motivate and support each other in their time of need via video, texts or online posts. They can also follow each other through discussion threads.

About The Tutu Project™
Linda and Bob Carey, creators of The Tutu Project, know that if the daily stresses of cancer are reduced, and laughter and joy are infused into a family, living with cancer become a little bit easier. The iconic images of “the man in the pink tutu” have been seen around the world, thrilling fans and are used as a means to raise funds to financially support women and men diagnosed with breast cancer. The Tutu Project is a campaign of The Carey Foundation, a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. Information on their grant programs can found at:


Judy Welage
Welage Public Relations