October 21, 2019

Raising the Barre for the Tutu Project in 2019

For the fifth year running, Jet Linx Aviation is raising funds for The Tutu Project of the Carey Foundation, dedicated to providing financial assistance for expenses not covered by insurance and promoting awareness for breast cancer patients and their loved ones. The initial Tutu Project #Dare2Tutu social media campaign launched in 2015. Jet Linx team members and clients are asked to participate by simply donning a pink tutu, taking a photo, and sending it to Jet Linx. Each photo taken with a tutu is then matched by Jet Linx with a $20 donation to the Tutu Project. It’s a simple and light-hearted way to raise money for those battling breast cancer.

Jet Linx team members across the nation are challenged to submit up to five photos featuring different subjects, but some are driven to go above and beyond. Last year, Julie Polson, an accountant at the National Operations Center submitted an astounding 536 images. For Polson, her mission was personal, as there are three breast cancer survivors in her family alone. Read more about Polson’s story here.

This year, another member of the Jet Linx team chose to go above and beyond for the Tutu Project. Cara Ratay, a Client Service Specialist in Indianapolis, was inspired by Polson’s efforts and managed to snap more than 300 unique photos in one day at a homecoming tailgate party at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Ratay and many members of her family are alumni of Purdue University and are active in the alumni association. She saw the tailgate as a perfect opportunity to spread awareness and raise funds for the #Dare2Tutu movement.

“I saw what Julie Polson was able to accomplish last year, so I was inspired to do the same. While no one in my family has been touched by breast cancer, I’m humbled by the opportunity to make a positive difference, and I’m proud that Jet Linx gives me the platform to do so,” Ratay reflected.

With a handful of pink Tutus and a camera, Ratay and her husband toured through a massive Purdue alumni tailgate and asked people if they were willing to don the pink tutu for a good cause. More than 300 people gleefully accepted, and many were impressed that Jet Linx was so invested in the cause.

“I was wearing the tutu myself, and people were extremely receptive. Most of the people we asked to participate were genuinely flattered at the opportunity. It’s such a painless, fun way to raise money for a good cause,” said Ratay.

While the #Dare2Tutu campaign is often lighthearted and fuzzy, there were times where Ratay was reminded of the gravity of the disease. “While most of the day was really uplifting, I did meet some people at the tailgate that had lost loved ones to breast cancer. I realize that while most other people were having fun with the #Dare2Tutu campaign, it likely stirred some difficult memories for other people. It served as a stark reminder that this campaign is so important to so many people. People are hurting and we have an opportunity to help them.”

Ratay was especially affected when a woman revealed that she had lost her 42-year-old daughter to a battle with breast cancer. “This woman had a large tattoo on her forearm in honor of her daughter. All of a sudden, I was hugging and bonding with a complete stranger. That’s how powerful the #dare2tutu campaign is. It was totally unexpected for me – and for the woman.”

Another impactful moment came when a younger woman in a larger group appeared hesitant to participate. When Ratay suggested she join in, the young woman explained that she had lost her aunt to a battle in breast cancer. “This reminded me that while I’m out here having fun – this is painful for some people. This was a huge lesson for me. We can forget that this is life or death for some people.”

Ratay also revealed that about 99% of people had no reservations about wearing the tutus. Even better – Ratay earned herself a free plate of tacos and was also offered pancakes in return for her efforts!

Photo submissions in 2018 totaled 1,275, an increase of 193% from 2017. Between the photo match, in-kind donations, and silent auction items, Jet Linx raised $48,090 in 2018. In 2019, team members like Cara Ratay and Julie Polson, in combination with the “Traveling Tutu” campaign that brought a pink tutu to all Jet Linx members and owners, have helped to again drive up the number of total #Dare2Tutu photos. Not only have more photos been taken, awareness of the cause has continued to gain traction. There is no dollar amount that can summarize the impact of team members going out into their communities and spreading information about the Tutu Project and the Carey Foundation.

If you haven’t already, visit your local Jet Linx Base, don a pink tutu, and strike a pose for the cause!

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