Typically, an organization reveals the nature of its content and its objective by the wording of its name. Redbone is a catchy word, but it needs an explanation. So, what is a Redbone? A legendary blues musician? A hardworking hound dog? Try again. An embarrassed bonefish? Well...
In 1984, Gary and Susan Ellis' newborn daughter, Nicole, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. They were told with considerable care, she should live to her early teens. After asking the question "What is cystic fibrosis," they set out to find a way to fight it. In 1988 with the help of their friends, including legendary Hitter Ted Williams, they founded the Redbone Celebrity Tournament Series to help the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fund the research to cure CF. Guides, anglers, and celebrities from film and sports teamed up on thirty-three boats to fish for redfish and bonefish. From that tournament came the name "Redbone." They raised $16,000 that first year and more importantly, introduced CF into the conscience of the very caring community of Islamorada in the Florida Keys. From that small seed, the Redbone has mushroomed into 25 tournaments spanning both coasts of the United States, Mexico and the Bahamas, and an art gallery specializing in angler art. In the last 21 years, the Redbone has made a total contribution to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of over 10 million dollars. In 2009 Redbone fishing tournaments, including our cooperative efforts with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, netted over $1.5 million "to catch the cure."
When the Redbone was first established, children with CF rarely lived to attend high school. Today the median age of survival for a person with CF is 35 years. We should not celebrate this achievement, since a single life is yet to be saved from this devastating disease, but it has become a sign of hope for a brighter tomorrow for individuals with the disease and their families.
Money buys science, and science does save lives. That's why events such as the Redbone Celebrity Tournament Series, the Redbone@Large, and the Red-Trout Series are important. Through your support, you are insuring that aggressive, innovative research in CF will constantly be explored. By helping us support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, you are helping to build a bridge of hope that will eventually lead to the ultimate victory: a cure for cystic fibrosis.
Capt. Gary Ellis