[Crystal River, FL–] Mist rises from the murky green surface of Kings Bay as our group of snorkelers quietly enters the water. The air temperature this January morning is a chilly 40 degrees, but the …
Help Catch the Cure for Cystic Fibrosis in the Redbone Tournament
In 1984 when Nicole Ellis was a baby, her parents received a crushing diagnosis from her pediatrician: cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes the lungs to clog with fluid and can damage other organs. Little Nicole wasn’t expected to live past her early teens.
But her parents, Islamorada light-tackle fishing guide captain Gary Ellis and wife Susan, vowed they wouldn’t let their daughter succumb without a fight. In 1988, the couple founded the Redbone Celebrity Series of fishing tournaments to raise money to find a cure. There was the S.L.A.M.– a Key West-based contest to catch and release bonefish, tarpon and permit; the Baybone, held in the Upper Keys targeting bonefish and permit; and the Redbone, held in Islamorada pursuing redfish and bonefish.
Now in its 26th year, the series has expanded to include at-large tournaments throughout the U.S. and overseas and has contributed more than $10 million to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to fund the science to stop the disease. The 2016 Robert James Sales Redbone Tournament will be held Nov. 4-6 at the Islander Resort, a Guy Harvey Outpost in Islamorada. Registration is open at www.redbone.org.
A kickoff party and auction will be held Nov. 4 at the Islander’s Florida Keys Conference Center from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fishing is all day Nov. 5 and 6, wrapping up with an awards banquet Nov. 6. Among the celebrities slated to compete are retired astronaut Bruce Melnick and retired Denver Broncos great Mark Cooper.
As for Nicole, she is a successful 32-year-old international businesswoman who casts a fly rod better than most. While she has benefited from some of the therapies funded in part by the Redbone, researchers still haven’t come up with a cure for the disease that threatens her. So Nicole and her parents continue their fight, and the tournament series carries on.
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