Everything (and we mean everything) about the 10th annual Evening with Emily’s Entourage gala, held on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, was remarkable.
First and foremost, in celebration of our momentous 10-year anniversary, Emily’s Entourage (EE) put out a call to hit our $10 million all-time fundraising mark — and our supporters showed up. It was an audacious goal and we are still awestruck and beyond grateful to share that we did it!!! We hit $10 million!!!
When the team at EE set out to plan this year’s gala, we knew it needed to be something special in celebration of our milestone anniversary. But, with COVID-19 rates still high in the Philadelphia area, it didn’t feel quite right to hold the gala in its traditional format. So, in typical EE spirit, we put our heads together and came up with an exciting, unconventional new format that was both COVID-safe and harnessed the unique magic that happens when you bring a collection of passionate people together in one space in real-time.
Cue EE’s first-ever drive-in gala, “The Power of 10” — an aptly named celebration as EE neared $10 million raised, over 10 years, for the final 10% of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) who don’t benefit from existing mutation-targeted therapies.
Held in the parking lot of Adath Israel in Merion Station, Penn., the evening hosted hundreds of supporters in person and virtually — all in the name of speeding breakthroughs for people with nonsense mutations of CF.
Guests were welcomed to the event with retro drive-in movie theater-style vibes, including popcorn and snack boxes delivered to car windows, a concession stand, iconic movie theme songs beaming from the speakers, and the friendly faces of EE volunteers (with smiles you could spot even beneath their masks!).
Coby Kramer-Golinkoff, board member and brother of EE’s Co-Founder Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, emceed the evening’s events, welcoming both in-person and virtual attendees and setting the stage for the night as he shared EE’s tireless work to ensure that everyone in the CF community experiences lifesaving breakthroughs in their lifetime.
He was followed by the ever-inspiring Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Meta, who shared a deeply heartfelt message for the Entourage. Sheryl recounted her first meeting with EE’s co-founders Emily and Liza in 2017 and shared how the meeting moved her personally. She went on to describe her respect for both Emily and EE.
“Collective resilience changes lives … We don’t just build resilience in ourselves, but we build it in each other. And that’s exactly what Emily’s Entourage is all about.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Next, Emily’s sister, Julia Kramer-Golinkoff, took the stage to recognize the evening’s honorary co-chairs, Lorri and Ted Bernstein, thanking them for being “a source of life-sustaining support” for EE.
Lorri and Ted then took the stage to share their deep appreciation for the entire Kramer-Golinkoff family and what makes EE different from other philanthropies, calling it “an organization steeped in love.” Ted encouraged attendees to renew their commitment to doing all they can to recognize the dream for a cure and make this 10th anniversary the best EE event yet.
Coby returned to the stage to thank all of the generous sponsors, supporters, in-kind donors, and EE staff members who made the night possible, including Presenting Sponsor Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Amethyst Sponsor Viatris, in-kind donors Adath Israel, TPD Design House, and so many more. He then passed the baton to longtime EE supporter Nikki Bernstein, who recognized the accomplishments of the 2021 CureFinders Crew (CF Crew) and Champions.
This year’s CF Crew, which was comprised of 10 people with CF and their loved ones, raised an astonishing $57,352 to speed breakthroughs for the final 10%!!
The 2021 Champions were made up of seven individuals and five teams and included people with a wide variety of skills, backgrounds, and connections to EE, including mahjong players, new parents, teachers, bakers, and a few of Emily’s closest childhood and college friends. This group truly went above and beyond, collectively raising $31,484 in the search for a cure!
Nikki then went on to announce the 2021 Champion of the Year, “Team Seeking a Cure!.” This group, made up of Emily’s best friends from college, raised an astounding $14,313! Julie Wertheimer accepted the award on behalf of her team.
Next, attendees watched as a retrospective video took them on a journey from the start of EE back in 2011 to where we are today.
The video was followed by Emily’s much-anticipated and always-powerful speech, where she shared her diagnosis with a new cardiac complication of CF in 2021 — the result of living with CF at such a low lung function for nearly a decade. She shared how both she, as a person with advanced stage CF, and EE continue to defy all of the odds — followed by a detailed account of exciting advancements in research funded by EE, noting that projects are advancing to clinical stage, meaning potential treatments actually reaching patients.
This is perhaps the best proof of EE’s progress! Not only does this progress represent hope for the CF community, it also underscores EE’s unique ability to identify the most promising science, convene the leading players, and use novel funding mechanisms to bring lifesaving treatments to patients fast.
“You can’t just acquire the kind of passion, fearlessness, and drive to win that we, this most amazing Entourage, collectively have. That’s the force that creates breakthroughs.” – Emily Kramer-Golinkoff
Coby returned to the stage to recount the moment he first heard the average life expectancy of a person with CF and shared his disbelief in the realization that his older sister’s life may be cut short from the disease. He went on to discuss key moments in life that change everything — from creating the first video that launched EE to the ways the pandemic has flipped the Kramer-Golinkoff family’s life (and the lives of so many) upside down.
“These moments can shatter our universe, redefine what’s possible, and change the world,” he said. “The thing about these moments? We usually only recognize them after they’ve passed. What makes tonight so special is we’re standing in one of these moments right now!”
Coby asked attendees to meet the moment — to give generously and finish the job for 100% of the CF community.
A 5-minute countdown started and donations began rolling in. Then, exciting news was shared — every donation would be matched up to $25,000 from the Kenneth and Gloria Friedman Foundation. Kenneth and Gloria’s daughter, Rebecca, has CF. Fortunately, she is part of the 90% of the CF community benefiting from a breakthrough drug, but the Friedman family stands with EE in believing that 90% just isn’t good enough and committing to do anything it takes to reach 100% of the CF community, and doing it fast.
The thermometer rose as donations flooded in from around the globe, reaching EE’s all-time $10 million fundraising milestone!!! Sparklers erupted, car horns blasted, LED batons waved, and a gospel choir sang as supporters (both near and far!!) celebrated a truly historic evening for the entire Entourage!
HELP US FINISH THE JOB FOR THE FINAL 10%
- Make a tax-deductible donation to Emily’s Entourage. Click here to donate.
- Share Emily’s personal appeal for support. Watch and share her video on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and encourage your network to pass it on too!
Emily’s Entourage would like to thank every single member of the Entourage that made this evening and celebration possible. Whether you have been with us since the beginning or you joined us for the first time at this gala, your support fuels us into our tireless quest to speed breakthroughs for the final 10%. Thanks to you, we are one step closer to a future where EVERYONE with CF can take a deep breath.