What do you get when Broadway's biggest stars, such as Javier Muñoz and Gideon Glick, come together in the recording studio? One heck of a song. And one heck of a message.
Joined by Broadway veterans Laura Osnes, Christy Altomare and actress Sarah Levy, Muñoz and Glick have banded together for a new campaign -- called the "Anyway" campaign -- for an original song to help raise money for Emily's Entourage.
At the center of the Entourage is Emily Kramer-Golinkoff: a 33-year-old daughter, sister and granddaughter who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was just a few weeks old. Her parents, Liza and Michael, have done everything in their power to raise Emily as if she was a normal child.
As the fatal disease only affects 70,000 people worldwide, funding for a cure is limited. Emily and her family are even more restrained by her specific mutation, which means medical funding is even rarer. And with a life expectancy of only 35-37 years for her kind of CF, time's ticking.
Six years after the Kramer-Golinkoffs decided to take matters into their own hands, they've raised $3 million to drive high-impact research and speed up breakthroughs to research not only Emily's mutation, but many other diseases including muscular dystrophy, inherited blood disorders and certain cancers.
They've also built a network of family, friends, and strangers from around the world, all of whom have been welcomed into the Entourage. Each Entourage member has been more inspired by Emily's story than the next.
Take Elizabeth Phillipson-Weiner, from Emily's hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and composer of "Anyway." She took a simple journal entry from a songwriting retreat, turning lyrics like "when the going gets tough I ask questions" into a prolific melody.
Elizabeth explained to AOL Lifestyle. "The song wasn’t just cathartic for me, but could actually ring true for a lot of other people. I immediately thought of Emily." Working with co-writers, producers and engineers, that melody was soon turned into a demo.
But as inspired as Elizabeth was by Emily's story, the Entourage required "star power" to bring this project alive.
"I cold contacted agents and managers, I asked friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends," said Elizabeth. "We did hear 'no' quite a bit, but whenever I became discouraged or frustrated I thought about who and what I was doing this for."
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"We ended up with 5 of the most amazing stars that the stage and screen has to offer and they were all not only moved by Emily’s Story, but came with stories of their own. We knew immediately, they’d be Entourage members for life."
One incredible recording and music video later, Elizabeth hopes her project is emblematic of the message Emily's Entourage sends. "Emily always talks about her belief in the power of people. That is definitely at the core of this campaign," she said.
Credit: Elizabeth Phillipson-Weiner
"If I could, I would make it so that everyone on earth knows Emily’s story. Everyone would hear about her perseverance in the face of an insurmountable challenge; how she decided to take control of an uncontrollable situation just by asking questions; how she created a movement using only her voice," Elizabeth concluded.
Emily's Entourage is asking for $9 donations in order to shine a light on Cystic Fibrosis and other rare diseases with #GIVE9toSHINE. You can learn more about Emily's Entourage here.