It all started in 1984 when Gary and Susan Ellis’ newborn daughter, Nicole, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Four years later they founded the Redbone Celebrity Tournament Series as a way to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in research aimed at curing CF. That first fishing tournament, held in the Florida Keys, raised $16,000 toward the cause.
Over the years the Ellises have brought public awareness to the genetic disease.
“CF is a horrible genetic disease causing abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and can lead to life-threatening lung infections,” said Susan Ellis. “When we started the Redbone the life expectancy of CF patients was the early teens. Researchers have performed remarkable strides in gene research and CF patients are now living into their mid 30’s. Though researchers are close, there’s still no cure, and the work is not complete until that cure is found.”
The Redbone (REDfish and BONEfish) had help and support from the late Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Ted Williams, an Islamorada resident. He inspired the Ellises and helped attract his celebrity friends. Through the efforts of guides, anglers, sponsors and volunteers they raised $16,000 at that first event. It soon grew into a series of three fall tournaments in the Keys.
Today under the guidance of the Ellises the Redbone has grown into 26 events within four distinct fishing series; the original Redbone celebrity Keys trilogy, the Redbone Red*Trout series in five S.E. coastal cities, the Redbone’s Bahamas Bonefish series, and the Redbone@Large events in four countries for a wide variety of local fish species in catch-and-release formats. Anglers fish as a team or with a celebrity and are professionally guided.
Since its inception in 1988 the Florida Keys charity has raised close to $18 million.
This year the Redbone will celebrate its 25th year of fishing for a cure at the annual “Fruits of our Labors” BBQ cookout. The event takes place Saturday, May 25th, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Lorelei beach near mile marker 82 bayside.
The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of a million dollar plus check to the CF Foundation.
“It’s the eighth year in a row we’ll be presenting a check for over $1 million to the CF Foundation,” said Redbone founder Capt. Gary Ellis. “Actually $1.2 million was raised from last fall’s Redbone trilogy of Keys tournaments plus 23 other Redbone fishing events across the U.S. and internationally, to bring awareness to the genetic disease and our great Keys spirit.”
The BBQ cookout will be offered to the first 100 people at $15 per person or is free when making a $100 donation for a super raffle ticket which benefits CF Research.
At sunset a super raffle drawing will be held as Dragonfly Boatworks owner Mark Castlow presents to the winner a 14-ft. Marsh Hen skiff complete with a 9.9 hp Yamaha outboard and trailer plus a 13. 5 Dragonfly Paddle Board and a special removable rack.
Ticket holders need not be present to win. There will also be a silent auction with numerous trips, Redbone boutique, artwork and live music by Big Richard and the Family Fun Band. Tickets are available at The Redbone Gallery on Morada Way at MM 81.5 or at the Lorelei Cabana Bar. For more info call 305-664-2002, or go online to www.redbone.org .
Complete Photo Caption:
Remembering its roots; Redbone’s 1992 “Fruits of our Labors” celebration
In 1992 at the Redbone’s annual “Fruits of our Labors” celebration, a check presentation of $50,000 was made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to CF’s Ms. Chris Landshut by 7-yr.old Nicole Ellis and her father Capt. Gary Ellis. Jump ahead 21 years later — and for the eighth year in a row — over $1 million is being presented for medical research from funds raised at the Redbone’s 26 fishing tournaments in four countries bringing awareness to the CF disease and to the spirit of the Keys’ community. Today Nicole is a beautiful 28 yr.-old international marketing executive for Rich Products, waiting for a cure for CF to be made.
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