The Lansing theater community is pretty tight-knit, so word spread quickly. In the ensuing swarm of warm wishes, a unique fundraiser has emerged to help his family
“None of us Michigan artists are rich, and long-term illness can be draining financially and emotionally,” Emily Sutton- Smith, Caselli’s friend and Williamston Theatre co-founder, said. “We’re expecting a full recovery, but it will be a long road. I came up with this idea (but) I had no idea it would take off like this.”
Sutton-Smith’s idea was to splash a photo taken by her husband, John Lepard (another Williamston co-founder and longtime Caselli collaborator), across a T- shirt with the words “Team Tony” blazed across the top in the “Blade Runner” font. The photo was taken on the set of “10:53,” a drama (ironically) set in a hospital waiting room that Caselli directed last year.
“Tony looks like a superhero in it,” Sutton-Smith said. “John posted it as his profile picture and people started copying it like crazy. It went viral.”
The shirts can be bought at booster.com, a website that raises charitable funds through the sale of customized T-shirts. As of Tuesday, 436 had been sold, raising $9,460 for Caselli’s wife and two children. Additional contributions above the $15 asking price are allowed.
“People have emerged from across the country who said he’s affected them in some way," Sutton-Smith said. “We’re anxious to have him back.”
To buy a shirt or make a donation to the Caselli family, go to booster.com/team-tony.