Happy 33rd Birthday, Emily!

From time to time we invite guest bloggers who are part of the EE community to contribute their unique voices to our blog. Today’s guest blogger is our treasured EE Board Member and Emily’s lifelong best friend, Jessica Rutstein Lazarus, whose post officially launches our #33for33 campaign and birthday celebration for our dear, Emily.


Happy New Year, Entourage! Many of you have heard from me before, but for those who don’t know me, I am Jess, and while I have a few different roles at Emily’s Entourage, my favorite is being Emily’s best friend.

Me and Emily at the 6th Annual Evening with Emily’s Entourage Gala.

As we celebrate the start of a new year–one that we hope will include medical breakthroughs, scientific advancements and new treatment opportunities for those battling Cystic Fibrosis (CF)–I’m writing because I need to make sure we hit the ground running in our race against time.

January is a special month in my life, and that’s because soon after the start of a brand new year, it’s time to celebrate Emily’s birthday! She’ll be turning 33 on January 9th- what a milestone! It’s been a full thirty-three years of bringing pure joy and magic into the lives of so many.

But it’s important to also acknowledge that it’s been thirty-three years of wishing, hoping, and waiting for a breakthrough.

Cute and contemplative–Emily is serious–about birthday wishes!!!

Emily’s Entourage is the lifeline that Emily needs, and it’s also my lifeline for ensuring my best friend remains by my side. In 2011, I sent out an email asking my family and friends to “Help me Save my Best Friend.” Here I am, 6 years later, presenting you with the same request.

In the very first Emily’s Entourage campaign video I asked viewers to “help save my best friend”.

To date, our 2017-2018 annual campaign has raised a jaw-dropping $589K and that simply blows me away. So many of you have helped Emily’s Entourage grow this year through volunteering, donating and sharing our message, and my gratitude knows no end.

But despite our incredible progress, WE CAN’T STOP. Why? Because my best friend’s life depends on it. Nothing underscores that sense of urgency more than another birthday approaching.

Every year my friends and I try to think of new, different, exciting ways to celebrate Emily, and spend time devoted to such a special person. We’ve painted pottery while sipping champagne, feasted on lobster, toured New York City as young teenagers, tasted the best Philadelphia restaurants, and shamelessly proved we still have no bowling skills. 

Ready to feast on lobster as she rings in #29!

As her birthday is just around the corner, you know what I realized? The absolute best thing I can give Emily this year is HOPE.

I think one of the reasons Emily’s birthday is such a big deal to me is because Emily is someone who relishes the chance to celebrate others. Whether it’s an academic or professional accomplishment, an important life milestone, or most of all- a birthday, she jumps at the opportunity to make someone else feel special and celebrated. She’s the first person to ask about my birthday every year, and I’ve seen her follow chaotic schedules in order to hop on a plane or dash to a restaurant in order to be there for someone’s special moment. Emily derives true pleasure from recognizing others and she never ceases to make everyone around her feel cherished.  

When we arrive at our yearly opportunity to celebrate Emily on January 9th, I can admit that of course it’s more complicated than the average person’s birthday. Every year we strive to plan an intimate, special gathering to celebrate our cherished friend in the hopes that it will grant a short reprieve from the heavy emotions that accompany the day. If Emily ends up in a fit of laughter, and we all lose track of time because of how much we’re enjoying ourselves, then we have certainly accomplished our mission.  

Our crew celebrating Emily’s 30th birthday with a wine and paint party!

For two decades I have watched Emily gaze down at a beautiful cake, close her eyes with a thoughtful, genuine smile on her face, and take a serious moment for making a wish, before blowing out candles on her birthday cake.  I write to you now because I understand that the only way I can ensure more celebrations together, more chances to watch Emily smile with delight as we toast in her honor, is for us to break every barrier and shatter every limit we thought possible.

I will never tire of celebrating Emily at every chance I get, and I will never tire of asking for YOUR help, so that I can keep the celebrations coming.

Look at that smile! This birthday girl is ready to blow out those candles and make those wishes come true!

This year, I hope you’ll join me for our #33for33 campaign so we can give Emily the best present imaginable–the hope of many more birthdays to come.  

I need YOUR help.

Emily needs YOUR help.

Help me save my best friend.


Want to celebrate Emily’s 33rd Birthday? Be a part of the #33for33 campaign and keep those candles coming!!!

DONATE: Give $33 via our Facebook Fundraiser or at emilysentourage.org/donate

WATCH: View our 2018 campaign video.  

PASS IT ON: Forward this post and our 2018 Campaign Video to at least 5 people, share it on social media, and encourage your network to pass it on too.

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