Campus Cutie Special: Coby Kramer Golinkoff on Emily's Entourage

How did Emily's Entourage get started?

My sister Emily has Cystic Fibrosis, which is a life threatening progressive lung disease. She has 35% lung function, when you or I have 99% to 100%, and that number is rapidly diminishing. So it’s a genetic disease she was born with it. She’s very sick, she does 3-4 hours of treatment a day and takes over 30 pills a day. I’ve always been supportive of my sister being very sick.  I would sit with her while she was doing treatments, I would visit her in the hospital, but I like never really did anything. So my family and I decided we had a responsibility to help Emily and the 70,000 others with CF. We made a video, it became this family project and I interviewed my parents. They kind of narrated Emily’s story and her incredible achievements, despite what she’s up against on a daily basis. She graduated from Penn with honors, she was in a sorority, she does marketing for the Penn healthcare system right now, and is getting a masters in bioethics. She’s amazing. So on December 1st, 2011 we launched this video, and within one week we raised over $40,000. That’s when we realized we were on to something big. And since then it’s been about 15 months and we’ve raised a half million dollars for CF research.

How did Emily's Entourage grow?

And so what we do on college campuses-we’re on five college campuses: NYU, Delaware (who’s planning a party right now), Michigan, Arizona, and Tulane- we sell tank tops which is the ticket to our party. We had a party last spring and we sold over 11,000, which is 1 in 7 Tulane students. We raised over $13,000. It was really successful, we really tried to play on the college audience, because what do kids like more than tank tops and parties? And we’re doing the same thing, here, tonight.

What’s your favorite part about the party?

My favorite part, last year, was seeing that solidarity and people from all areas of the student body coming together to make the biggest impact in the fight against CF. Obviously, it’s really touching for me, but I think it also speaks to the student body here. It’s a really powerful in the room, seeing all these people wearing these tanks.

What kind of videos do you like to make, since you mentioned you like to make videos?

Making videos started on mother’s day actually, a few years ago. I compiled some family home videos and it kinda turned into a little project and I gave it to my mom. We got over a 1,000 views, it was a pretty cool video. It was just like a happy mother’s day, just highlighting my family and my sisters and some fun times. KG Family Times on YouTube. It’s me flying home from Tulane and my family picking me and me giving my sister a kiss on the check just that and some fun family memories. And then, since there, I’ve enjoyed making videos for Emily’s Entourage. I’m on the tennis team here and I made one for the tennis team as well.

My sisters and I also gave a Ted Ex talk. We spoke about youth culture in the era of social media, and how we’ve been able to utilize social media to disseminate our message and make the biggest impact possible.

Did you ever make a Harlem Shake video?

I actually really wanted to! At Emily’s Enourage, we really try to leverage youth culture, like with the tank tops and the parties. I really wanted to have a flash mob but we couldn’t really get around to it and organizing it.  I also really wanted to do a Harlem Shake, but we’re just a little bit behind on these social trends.

How does Emily's Entourage operate as an organization?

We now have a board of advisors in Philadelphia. I think twenty-plus really committed people who meet monthly. We’re a 501-C3, we’re tax deductible. We’re in the process of really trying to establish ourselves as a sustainable nonprofit organization and really reach a national scale. So, I’ve kind of been running our college efforts and I’m in touch with the four other presidents on the four other college campuses.  But I’m in the process of trying to create a stronger infrastructure and a start-up kit for people who want to start [Emily's Entourage] on other college campuses. And we’re also in the process of refining our board. We really become just a little bit more established and have set processes of procedures to really allocate our resources most efficiently and become a really functioning nonprofit.

What are your plans for after college?

I’m graduating in May, but I’m staying in New Orleans. I’m actually doing Teach for America. And my sister’s going to be a freshman at Tulane.  My other sister, lots of KG females. That helps with the sustainability of the event here at Tulane. The way we raise most of our money is through these videos and we do a yearly social media campaign.  So we launched that first video December 1st, 2011 and I made a follow up video December 1st, 2012 kind of recapping our first year and continue motivating people to supporting our cause.

Are you excited about Teach for America?

Yeah, I’m definitely very excited. I’ve definitely learned more from Emily’s Entourage than anything else that I’ve done.

The party for Emily's Entourage is TONIGHT: April 11th, 2013. Buy your tanks for $15 outside the LBC and help fight Cystic Fibrosis!