EE’s Big Easy Bash: Tulane Students Fighting for a Cure

Two weeks after the biggest Entourage gathering yet and we’re still flying high, just like those little hot air balloons on our EE tees.

We’re over the moon and so grateful that 1,000 Tulane University students – yes, you read that right – one thousand or one in every seven Tulane students (!) put on their purple tank tops and danced the night away at the New Orleans nightspot, The Willow, on March 6.

It was the fourth annual benefit thrown by Tulane’s EE chapter and it set new records for both turnout and dollars raised – more than $14,000! (To date, the group has raised well over $50,000!) “It still blows my mind when I think about it,” says Emily.

How did they pull it off and what does the event’s smashing success say about college students and our cause? This year’s three ringleaders, Tulane sophomore Julia Kramer-Golinkoff (Emily’s sister), senior Thomas Lynch and Teach for America corps member Coby Kramer-Golinkoff (Tulane ’13 and Emily’s brother) shared their thoughts.

How did you get so many students to come out?

Thomas: Your tank top acts as the ticket to the event. You purchase it and you wear it. That’s a really good rallying point. You come together at this big party and everyone’s just in a sea of purple tank tops. It’s amazing to see.

Coby: Kids love tank tops, kids love parties and to come together for a good cause. But I think the real reason we’ve attracted so many students is that our passion for the cause is contagious. People see that and they feel that spirit and it’s exciting for everyone to be a part of this – the collective impact is so great. And now, each and every year, we see it in the turnout at the benefit and the amount of dollars raised which translates to research for Cystic Fibrosis.

Julia: One reason it’s so successful is that there’s no other event on Tulane’s campus that I can think of that targets the whole student body. Absolutely everyone can get involved. It’s a unifying thing for Tulane.

Tell me more about the event itself.

Thomas: We have a live band start the event, then a DJ. It’s a very simple but extremely successful game plan. It became too big a party to hold on campus so we get an off-campus venue every year.

Coby: We get a local artist to design the tank tops; we get Tulane performers to showcase Tulane talent. So we involve the college, the Tulane culture, and the Greater New Orleans culture. A big cultural piece to New Orleans is enjoying life and partying. Emily’s Entourage wants to make people feel good and get excited about what we’re doing.

College kids often getting written off as selfish or apathetic, but your event sends a very different message…

Coby: Yes, it’s a perfect example of student activism in a big way. The high percentage and incredible turnout of the Tulane campus is revealing of values that are deeply held by students at Tulane. It also shows human nature. People want to help. What we’ve done at Tulane is provide people with a very simple way to help.

Julia: When I tell anyone about Emily’s Entourage and what it means to me, why it’s so important, they buy a tank top and they will support it. Everyone’s 100 percent ready to support it – it’s an incredible thing and it speaks to college students today.

Emily wasn’t at this year’s event but she came last year. Did that make a difference?

Thomas: Even more important than having her at the event was the speech she made the day before last year’s event. She’s such a moving public speaker. Listening to her story was the most impactful thing about having her here.

Coby: Any nice day you walk around Tulane’s campus, you’re bound to see at least four EE tank tops so everyone sees this and wonders, “Who is this ambiguous Emily?” She’s really become a celebrity on campus. When she came last year – the opportunity to put a face to this name, a face to this tank top, people were excited about it. Seeing and talking to Emily brought more volunteers closer to the cause.

On a personal note, you siblings seem to get along so well. Are there no sibling squabbles or rivalry?

Julia: Having Coby here supporting us as we’ve taken over the EE chapter has been absolutely essential. I think our relationship as siblings is a testament to Emily and how amazing she is and how she’s cultivated this familiar camaraderie and appreciation.

Coby: The place that all of us come from in the deepest way is our love for Emily and our passion for this. EE is something that brings Julia and me together in a really deep way.

What’s ahead for EE’s college presence?

Julia: We’d love to develop a way to create an event like we have here at other schools.

Thomas: We have visions of it just growing and growing. We would like to have a packaged model that we could ship to other campuses. Developing the infrastructure for other people to adopt is something we need to work on.

Coby: Our biggest goal is to integrate EE into Tulane, to really institutionalize it as a staple event. Hopefully we’re building a community around Emily’s Entourage and, as these students go on to graduate, they’ve heard of Cystic Fibrosis and they could potentially still own their EE tank top and become lifetime supporters – people who can help champion this cause and help us change the lives of our sister and so many others with CF.

Kudos to Julia, Thomas and Coby on this spectacularly successful Emily’s Entourage Benefit, and for showing us the power of college students united behind an important cause! We’re blown away and so grateful to the three of you and the entire Tulane community!

If you’re interested in learning how you can bring Emily’s Entourage to your college campus, please email us at admin@emilysentourage.org!

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